International Society of Geriatric Oncology Meeting Explores Multidisciplinary, Tailored Treatment of Older Patients With Cancer

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Stuart M. Lichtman, MD, FACP, FASCO

The annual meeting of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG, was held in Copenhagen from October 24 to 26. The theme of the meeting was the “Multidisciplinary Approach Towards Personalized Treatments.”

The Society, which was founded in 2000, is a multidisciplinary society, including physicians and allied health professionals in the fields of oncology and geriatrics, and has had over 1,000 members in more than 40 countries around the world. The goal of SIOG is to foster the development of health professionals in the field of geriatric oncology, in order to optimize treatment of older adults with cancer.

Three-Pronged Strategy

SIOG promotes efforts in three strategic directions. Its goal in education is to disseminate knowledge in order to maintain a high common standard of health care in older cancer patients, integrate geriatric oncology in the curricula for medical and nursing education to ensure a high standard of qualification for health-care professionals, address the shortage of specialist oncologists/geriatricians and allied health staff in geriatric oncology, and increase public awareness of the worldwide epidemic of cancer in the elderly.

The Society’s goal for clinical practice is to integrate geriatric evaluation (including comorbidities) into oncology decision-making and guidelines; improve the quality of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of older patients with malignancies; address issues of access to care, including the needs of the caregiver; and develop interdisciplinary geriatric oncology clinics.

In the area of research, SIOG aims to develop, test, and disseminate easy screening tools; create a clear and operational definition of vulnerability/frailty applicable to oncology; increase the relevance of clinical trials for older patients; improve research in the field of geriatric oncology; and promote multidisciplinary, basic/translational research on the interface of aging and cancer.

A major focus of the organization is the development of treatment guidelines by multidisciplinary task forces.1 These have included recommendations for Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment, and the incorporation of geriatric principles in the treatment of multiple solid tumors, surgery, radiotherapy, and supportive care.

Meeting Topics

The recent SIOG conference had 346 delegates participating from 42 countries. The meeting topics were divided into tracks: solid tumors, hematologic malignancy, new therapies and basic science, supportive care, and advocacy and socioeconomic issues. The 23 scientific sessions were held on multiple topics including targeted therapy, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, genitourinary malignancies, myelodysplasia, cancer cachexia, lung cancer, nursing and models of geriatric care. Industry-supported satellite sessions addressed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, prostate cancer, and hematologic malignancies. The plenary session topics included a review of the Institute of Medicine report, official presentation of Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment guidelines, and a special partnership session with ASCO and the European Society for Medical Oncology.

Among the 162 posters, the highlighted topics included a questionnaire evaluating patients understanding of clinical trials in metastatic non–small cell lung cancer, a screening tool for geriatric impairments, sleep deprivation in elderly thoracic surgery patients, nutrition, hematologic malignancies, advocacy, and policy issues.

The B.J. Kennedy Award for Best Poster went to Marije E. Hamaker, MD, PhD, of Diakonessenhuis Utrecht, the Netherlands, whose study addressed “Ongoing Clinical Trials in Elderly Patients With Hematologic Malignancy: Are We Addressing the Right Outcome Measures?” Also at the 2013 meeting, SIOG presented the Paul Calabresi Award to ­Supriya G. Mohile, MD, of the University of Rochester, New York, for her contributions to Geriatric Oncology.

This was the first time that interviews were conducted during the conference by the UK-based ecancer—a nonprofit oncology channel committed to improving cancer communication and education with the goal of optimizing patient care and outcomes.2

Vulnerable Population

The information presented at the SIOG conference amply demonstrated that there is an accumulating database of information contributing to enhanced care of older patients. Our ability to individualize treatment is improving, and this will lead not only to increased survival but also to better quality of life. The delegates were encouraged to develop trials and encourage participation of older patients with cancer. There is still much to be learned to be able to provide the best care for this vulnerable population.

The 2014 meeting will be held in Lisbon from October 23 to 25. The SIOG Administrative office is in Geneva, Switzerland. ■

Disclosure: Dr. Lichtman reported no potential conflicts of interest.

Dr. Lichtman is Attending Physician, 65+ Clinical Geriatric Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. He is also on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. 


1. International Society of Geriatric Oncology: SIOG clinical guidelines. Available at Accessed December 9, 2013.

2. ecancer conferences: Highlights from international oncology meetings. Available at Accessed December 9, 2013.

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