An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
By City of Hope | December 4, 2017
53percentbargraph 53 percent of patients experienced at least one grade 3-5 toxicity event
Chemotherapy toxicity calculator identifies risks in older adults with cancer

Older age is a risk factor for chemotherapy toxicity, and older adults are less likely to be offered chemotherapy because of concerns regarding their ability to tolerate treatment. However, studies have shown that older adults derive benefit from chemotherapy similar to those derived by younger adults. As a result, there is a need to characterize the “functional age” of older patients with cancer in order to guide tailored treatment decisions for this heterogeneous population based on factors other than chronologic age alone.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Arti Hurria, M.D., The George Tsai Family Chair in Geriatric Oncology, and her collaborators from the Cancer and Aging Research Group identified risk factors for chemotherapy toxicity in older patients, and using this information, developed a risk stratification schema. The geriatric assessment created in this study included an evaluation of functional status, comorbidities, cognition, psychological state, social activity, social support and nutritional status.
Results of this multicenter study indicated that chemotherapy toxicity is quite common in older adults, with 53 percent of participants experiencing at least one event of grade 3-5 toxicity.
As a result, Dr. Hurria and colleagues were able to develop the chemotherapy toxicity calculator, a tool that can succinctly identify an older patient's risk of severe chemotherapy-related side effects prior to cancer treatment. The American Society of Clinical Oncology subsequently named the results of this study one of the Clinical Cancer Advances in 2012. The innovation of this predictive model allows oncologists and geriatricians to make more informed benefits-vs-risks assessments of chemotherapy treatment.

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