Older Adults with Blood Cancers: How They Fare

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Although the majority of patients who have blood cancers are older adults, they make up only a small percentage of participants in the clinical trials that lead to new therapies. That’s because the standard research methods used in oncology (cancer medicine) are not ideal for identifying certain vulnerabilities linked to aging, such as having multiple chronic diseases and being frail.

To help remedy that situation, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued a guideline recommending that older adults who have cancer receive a geriatric assessment to see if they are at increased risk for experiencing side effects from medication and other complications from cancer and its treatment. Recently, a team of researchers examined older adults who have cancer to see whether their ability to manage daily activities as measured by these assessments was linked to staying alive longer. The team published their study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Caring for an Older Adult with Cancer Comes with Emotional Challenges for Caregivers, Too

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

The number of informal caregivers who look after older adults with cancer is on the rise. Caregivers could be relatives, partners, or even friends who provide assistance to people in order to help them function.

Most older people with cancer live at home and are dependent on informal caregivers for support with their cancer treatment, symptom management, and daily activities. Caregiving itself can also take a toll on a caregiver’s own physical and emotional well-being, which makes it important to ensure the proper supports are in place.

Until now, no large study has evaluated whether or not caring for older adults with advanced cancer is linked to caregivers’ emotional health or to their quality of life. Recently, researchers studied a group of adults aged 70 or older who had advanced cancer (as well as other challenges). This study used information from older patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers from local oncology practices enrolled in the “Improving Communication in Older Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers” study conducted through the University of Rochester National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program Research Base between October 2014 and April 2017. Results from the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

Does Chemotherapy Harm Ability to Function for Older Women with Breast Cancer?

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Research Summary

Older women are at higher risk for developing breast cancer than younger women are—almost half of all breast cancer cases, and most breast cancer deaths, occur in women who are 65 or older. Despite this, we know very little about how breast cancer and its treatments affect older women. In particular, we don’t fully understand how the disease and chemotherapy treatments affect a woman’s ability to function and perform daily activities.

For older adults, knowing how chemotherapy may affect you is important, especially if there’s a chance it could affect your ability to live independently. Understanding your risk for such problems would be good information to have when it comes to choosing treatments.

To learn more about how breast cancer and its treatments might affect older women’s abilities to function, a team of researchers designed a study. They published their results in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading