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Open Access Commentary

Approach to the older patient with cancer

Maxine de la Cruz* and Eduardo Bruera

Author Affiliations

Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard Unit 1414, Houston, TX 77030, USA

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:218  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-218

Published: 10 October 2013


The incidence of cancer increases with advanced age. And as the world population ages, clinicians will be faced with a growing number of older patients with cancer. The challenge that clinicians face involves carefully choosing the type of therapeutic care plan that is most appropriate given a person’s level of physical reserve, medical comorbidities, and psychosocial resources. Inclusion of assessment tools in clinical practice such as a comprehensive geriatric assessment can assist clinicians in identifying patients who will benefit from aggressive cancer care or palliative measures. The role of palliative care, especially in the frail older patient, is critical in improving quality of life. Improvement in best care practices in older patients with cancer requires their inclusion in clinical trials.

Advance cancer; Geriatric patient; Palliative care; Supportive care; Symptom management