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ESMO E-Learning Geriatric Oncology: An Introduction

Learning objectives

  • To understand the relationship between cancer and aging
  • To understand the particular issues that affect cancer management in elderly patients 
  • To understand the principles of comprehensive geriatric assessment and its use in oncology, including prediction of chemotherapy toxicity

The CME test associated with this E-Learning Module has now expired.

Title Duration Content CME Points CME Test
Geriatric Oncology: An Introduction 35 min. 46 slides - -

Elderly patients will dominate oncology practice in the future. This E-Learning module is an ESMO initiative organised to educate oncologists towards the integration of geriatric oncology principles into routine oncology practice and services. In the Module, the authors cover the classical topics of geriatric oncology: demographics of cancer and aging, chronological age vs. functional age, the aging process and its impact on organs and systems, principles of Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA), and toxicity prediction scores in elderly patients with cancer.

Elderly is a subjective cultural concept that varies from culture to culture, depending on a mixture of health-related, social and economic factors. In industrialised societies, 70 years old is a standard cut-off point used to refer to the older population; however, in other, poorer or more traditional societies, a lower age may be more appropriate.

Chronological age and functional age can differ greatly from person to person. Therefore, the authors emphasize that in geriatric oncology, what determines management is the functional age and the efforts should be dedicated to accurately evaluate and maintain functionality during cancer treatment.

Aging leads to decline in organ functions and this decline can be less than obvious based on tests alone. CGA should be the standard form of evaluation and follow-up for elderly patients before and during cancer treatment, as it identifies problems that are not identified by routine physical examination and patient history alone. In geriatric medicine, several routine screenings and CGA tools are available for clinical practice, including those that have been validated for geriatric oncology patients.

In this module, the authors provide an excellent overview of CGA domains and detail each one according to geriatric oncology practice relevance. They review different tools and scores available and provide practical tips that every oncologist should consider. Furthermore, they urge to conduct more elderly-centred studies with appropriate endpoints as this is critical to provide the basis for more specific treatment standards and better outcomes.

This E-Learning module was published in 2017 and expired in 2019.

Last update: 05 Sep 2017

The authors have reported no conflict of interest

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