The odds of developing some type of cancer increase with age; sixty percent of cancer in the United States occurs in persons aged 65 and older. At the same time, senior patients may have acute or chronic diseases that make treating their cancer challenging. That's why the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson has established a new, multidisciplinary Senior Adult Oncology Center to provide a comprehensive consultation for senior patients in order to meet those special challenges.
"Patients and their referring physicians can receive a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan, a second opinion regarding diagnosis or treatment, or advice on a particular problem related to cancer and aging," said Andrew E. Chapman, D.O., division director, Regional Cancer Care; clinical associate professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University; and co-director of the center.
Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Assessment
The program includes a comprehensive geriatric oncology assessment of each patient - usually during a single visit - by a multidisciplinary team of professionals including a geriatrician, oncologist, nurse, pharmacist, social worker, dietician and others as needed
"This assessment identifies potential problems related to aging and the patient's cancer," said Christine A. Arenson, M.D., division director, Geriatric Medicine; associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. "Treatment needs to take into account other conditions that may affect older people, including limitations on activity, transportation problems, nutritional problems and memory disorders or depression."
Ensuring Autonomy, Dignity and Quality of Life
Based on that assessment, the team then develops a personalized plan of treatment. This plan takes into consideration the patient's individual risks and potential for complications, as well as their personal preferences, to help ensure their autonomy, dignity and quality of life. This plan is shared with the patient and his or her primary care physician and/or oncologist. If the patient plans to receive care closer to home, KCC physicians work closely with local physicians to deliver treatment in the patient's own community.
Patients Who Would Benefit
Any cancer patient over the age of 65 years with one or more of the following would benefit from an assessment:
•Multiple chronic medical problems;
•On several prescriptions or over-the-counter medications;
•Vision or hearing impairment;
•Difficulty with one or more activities of daily living;
•Physical weakness or frailty;
•Gait dysfunction, balance problems or history of falls;
•At risk for malnutrition, including weight loss;
•Urinary incontinence; and/or
•Lack of social support, caregiver issues or at risk for nursing home placement.
Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson