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Bedside assessment may provide better outcomes for older cancer patients
Date:10/26/2011

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In geriatric medicine, the adage that age is just a number holds true. New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center uses a simple assessment tool to determine how well older adults diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) can handle treatment.

"We're trying to develop better assessment strategies for older adults with this particularly aggressive disease because, functionally, they encompass a broad age spectrum," said Heidi D. Klepin, M.D., M.S., of Wake Forest Baptist and the study's lead author. "It's well known that older patients with acute leukemia do not tolerate and benefit from standard, aggressive therapies as much as younger patients. However, certain older individuals can clearly benefit from aggressive treatment. We know we need to treat their cancer, but can we individualize the treatment to each patient and get them through their cancer treatment in better shape?"

Most treatment recommendations are based on chronological age stratification, said Klepin, an assistant professor of internal medicine, hematology/oncology. Research has importantly focused on how to better treat the tumor, but there has been little focus on the individual patient as a whole to quantify how functional they are across the board to withstand the aggressive treatment, she added.

For Klepin, this means looking beyond the patient's chronological age. "You're 70, but what kind of a 70-year-old are you? Are you a very functional 70-year-old and pass all these assessments with flying colors?" she said. "Then you should be treated like a 55-year-old. But if you're a frail 70-year-old, we need to take that into consideration and figure out ways to get you through the treatment better or consider alternative treatment strategies that can be better tolerated."

The study, published in this month's issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, looked at whether a bedside geriatric assessment
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Contact: Bonnie Davis
bdavis@wakehealth.edu
336-716-4977
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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