An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
By Valerie Howard | January 21, 2016

Americans are living longer than ever, which means growing numbers of senior citizens are now living with a chronic disease. Since quality of life hinges on the ability to manage these chronic conditions, choosing the right medical care is crucial.

In a recent article entitled, “Are seniors getting enough health care or too much?”, published on, Sanjay Gupta, M.D., tackled that question. City of Hope’s Arti Hurria, M.D., director of the Cancer and Aging Research Program, helped Gupta with a few answers.

To get the best medical care, senior citizens should engage with their doctors, ask questions, and be active in the decision-making process, Hurria said. 

“The best medical decisions are personalized,” Hurria told Gupta. That means patients should let their doctors get to know them. Details such as health status, personal values, goals and health care preferences will reveal a patient’s “functional age,” and help a doctor to recommend appropriate medical care. 

These factors may influence not only a patient’s health, but also their quality of life, Hurria said. 

For seniors with cancer, Hurria has developed a set of 11 questions that oncologists can use to assess a patient’s functional age. The results can be used to decide whether the patient should be advised to have chemotherapy or other cancer treatment. 

Medical decisions should be a shared responsibility between doctor and patient, Gupta writes. In addition to sharing personal information, patients should ask questions about the pros and cons of a recommended medication, test or procedure before agreeing to it.

To help seniors prepare for their next doctor visit, Gupta provides several resources. These include a link to Treatments and Tests for Seniors, a guide from Choosing Wisely, which offers condition-specific advice to help patients discuss treatment options with their doctors.

To read the entire story, visit


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