Oncology providers familiar with ASCO’s guideline on older adults with cancer are two to four times more likely to conduct a geriatric assessment on patients with cancer over the age of 65, according to the first international ASCO survey aimed at determining if and how often cancer providers are using geriatric assessments when treating older adults. This is a noteworthy finding, according to ASCO, because nearly 70% of patients with cancer in the United States are 65 or older, and globally, the number of new cancer cases per year among older adults will exceed 13 million by 2030.
In 2018, ASCO published a guideline entitled Practical Assessment and Management of Vulnerabilities in Older Patients Receiving Chemotherapy, which recommends that cancer care providers conduct a geriatric assessment on all patients aged 65 or older to identify vulnerabilities (such as function, comorbidity, falls, depression, cognition, and nutrition) that are not routinely captured in oncology assessments. The guideline also recommends specific tools providers can use to conduct these geriatric assessments.
The survey, which was published in JCO Oncology Practice, found more than half (53%) of respondents were familiar with the ASCO guideline. Of those respondents, 69% used geriatric assessment tools to assess the functional status of older adults with cancer, compared to 50% of those who were not familiar with the guideline.
This survey is just one part of ASCO’s multipronged strategy to improve the evidence base for treating older adults with cancer, to enhance education and training for oncology providers, and to create guidelines aimed at improving the quality of care for older adults with cancer. The ASCO survey was conducted online between April 5, 2019, and June 5, 2019. Responses from 1,240 providers across the globe who care for older adults with cancer were analyzed for this report.
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