July 28, 2013 | by Denise Heady
Arti Hurria, M.D., director of the Cancer and Aging Research Program at City of Hope, feels strongly that too little attention has been paid to the needs of older people with cancer. She's working to change that.
She recently presented an overview of her work – and the context for it – at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), where she was honored as the 2013 recipient of the B.J. Kennedy Award for her contributions to the research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the elderly. Here, we offer the concluding post in a five-part series on the most important aspects of Hurria's work – and what doctors and others need to know about treatment of the elderly.
Part 5: The integration of geriatrics and oncology
With an increase in older cancer patients – and a lack of health care workers – looming, technology could prove to be a lifesaver, blending both geriatrics and oncology care.
"We can utilize technology to capture the information, predict the risk of chemotherapy toxicity, and pinpoint areas of vulnerability and areas that are practical interventions that we can think about ahead of time," Hurria said.
Various computer applications could provide this crucial step. "We always want to be on step ahead," Hurria said. "We have to think about how we are going to capture this information and utilize it in technology."
City of Hope has developed a touch-screen application that Hurria and her team are using to conduct geriatric assessments. This type of application could also keep and show summaries of risks, perhaps helping create a conversation with patients about reducing those risks.
Such technology to capture geriatric assessment is a significant step forward for her and her team, Hurria said. "It can be utilized to not only capture the data but also synthesize the results and intervention recommendations," Hurria said.
Because some older adults don't feel comfortable with newer forms of technology, Hurria said, her researchers are assessing the feasibility of using the technology to ensure that it could be practical for her patients.
"We performed a feasibility study. Data not yet reported, but found it was quite feasible. An additional study is also underway," concluded Hurria.