With a rapidly aging population shifting the spotlight to geriatric oncology, research in this area is also quickly changing and improving. On this page, you can review the latest updates on cancer in older people. The resources have been gathered from research and publications presented at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting, articles in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of Oncology Practice, and features in The ASCO Post. Also check out the International Society of Geriatric Oncology’s (SIOG’s) clinical guidelines for treating older patients with cancer. In addition, visit the Portal of Geriatrics Online Education’s free digital resources focused on gerontology and cancer in older adults.

ASCO Annual Meeting

Held annually in June, the ASCO Annual Meeting brings together more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world to debut the newest, cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research in the oncology world and to share ideas and network. Many publications and other resources are produced for the meeting each year, and they prove to be valuable and effective long after each meeting ends. Below are a sampling of these resources, with a description of the specific geriatric oncology research they provide.

ASCO Educational Book

Each year, ASCO Annual Meeting faculty and other invited speakers provide written synopses of their upcoming Annual Meeting Educational Session topics. These synopses are then published in the peer-reviewed, NLM-indexed ASCO Educational Book. The articles encompass the most up-to-date and timely research in all areas of oncology. Below are several articles focused on current updates in geriatric oncology, including targeted therapies, the use of geriatric assessments, and survivorship issues for this population.

  • Cancer Treatment as an Accelerated Aging Process: Assessment, Biomarkers, and Interventions: This article investigates the hypothesis that cancer and cancer treatment speed up the aging process for patients—an important survivorship issue among older adults with cancer. The authors discuss how cancer treatment affects biomarkers of aging, using cardiovascular disease as an example. The authors also discuss possible effective ways, including exercise, to combat this accelerated aging process.
  • Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacokinetics, and Pharmacodynamics in the Era of Targeted Therapies: With the recent move toward novel targeted cancer treatments, doctors have found themselves struggling to appropriately dose frail and/or older patients. The authors of this article discuss the need for precision medicine to consider interpatient variability in drug action from pharmacogenomic, -kinetic, and -dynamic factors. The authors also discuss the important role that frailty measurement plays in accurately dosing older patients.
  • Treatment of Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer in Older Patients: Despite there being an effective standard of care for older adults with muscle-invasive bladder cancer, studies show that less than 50% of adults older than age 70 are receiving treatment for this disease. This ASCO Educational Book article explores this issue, with a focus on using helpful frailty measures. The article also calls for employing a multidisciplinary approach to increase the chances of survival and treatment effectiveness among this population of older adults.
  • Treatment of Older Women with Endometrial Cancer: Improving Outcomes with Personalized Care: The majority of endometrial cancer is diagnosed among women older than age 62. However, this population of women is more likely to be diagnosed with poor prognosis disease and less likely to be offered more invasive treatment options. The authors of this article discuss the facts surrounding this issue, as well as using a multidisciplinary approach and comprehensive geriatric assessments to accurately treat older women.
  • Evolving Therapies in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Progress at Last? Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease that most commonly affects older adults. The challenge is that its standard initial treatment has high toxicity and low long-term survival. This ASCO Educational Book article highlights the need to improve AML therapy and the detection of minimal residual disease using pretreatment geriatric evaluations, molecular profiling, and target-specific agents.
  • Developing High-Quality Cancer Rehabilitation Programs: A Timely NeedImproved cancer treatment and the aging US population are increasing the number of cancer survivors—making survivorship care of utmost importance. The authors of this article outline a surveillance model for cancer rehabilitation interventions that begins during diagnosis and follows the patient through and beyond treatment. The model is designed to identify symptoms early, facilitate timely and effective treatment, and ultimately decrease cancer morbidity rates among survivors.

Journal of Clinical Oncology

The Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) is the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Available digitally and in print, JCO publishes clinical oncology research articles aimed at an audience of medical professionals from all areas of oncology. More than 25,000 oncologists from over 120 countries receive JCO each month, and its online component receives more than 3.2 unique visits annually. The journal maintains a collection of geriatric oncology journal articles on its website and provides the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed.

  • Use of a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment for the Management of Elderly Patients With Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: The Phase III Randomized ESOGIA-GFPC-GECP 08-02 Study: Doctors typically use performance status (PS) to determine chemotherapy allocation in older adults with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). But in this Journal of Clinical Oncology article, researchers detail findings from their study in which they used comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) instead of PS. The researchers conducted a multicenter, open-label, phase III trial in patients age 70 and older with stage IV NSCLC. The team discovered that neither treatment failure-free survival nor overall survival improved with CGA treatment allocation, but use of CGA did somewhat decrease treatment toxicity.
  • Burden of Geriatric Events Among Older Adults Undergoing Major Cancer Surgery: This JCO article explores the occurrence of geriatric events, including delirium, dehydration, falls and fractures, and pressure ulcers, during major surgical treatment for cancer. The research team found that these events occur often among older adults undergoing major surgery for the treatment of cancer—especially gastric cancer. Additionally, these events are most likely due to operative morbidity, prolonged hospitalization, and more expensive health care. Future research must focus on remedying these geriatric events for these surgical patients and providing the best health care possible.

Journal of Oncology Practice

ASCO publishes the Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP) with the aim of helping oncology professionals provide the highest-quality care to patients. In its monthly issues, JOP delivers the most up-to-date and cutting-edge information on oncology practice in the form of clinical reviews, commentaries, editorials, and more. The journal houses a collection of its published geriatric oncology resources and provides the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed.

  • Breast Cancer in Women Older Than 80 Years: The population of adults age 80 and older is growing quickly, currently making up 9 million of the US population. At the same time, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and is primarily diagnosed after age 60. In this JOP article, researchers review the current literature on treating breast cancer in women age 80 and older. In addition, they discuss the importance of geriatric assessment and the patient’s own goals in choosing the right treatment.
  • Falls in Older Adults With Cancer: Evaluation by Oncology Providers: Falls are common among older adults, and they also increase the morbidity and mortality rates of older patients with cancer. Researchers in this JOP article reviewed data on how oncology providers recognize and respond to falls among their older patients with cancer. The study found that only 10% of the falls among older patients with cancer were documented after being reported to the oncology provider. The authors call for increased attention and reporting of falls among older patients with cancer.

The ASCO Post

Available digitally and in print, The ASCO Post provides up-to-date oncology news and clinical research. It covers a wide range of oncology topics important to clinicians, ASCO members, and other health care professionals, and includes a focus on geriatric oncology. The ASCO Post also publishes expert op-eds, webcasts and videos, and oncology meeting coverage.

  • Geriatrics for the Oncologist”: is a monthly column in The ASCO Post produced in collaboration with the International Society for Geriatric Oncology. Guest authors pen op-eds on various important topics in the field, including supportive care for older adults with cancer, clinical trial design for older adults, and the state of specific types of cancer in this population.

International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) Guidelines for Older Adults with Cancer 

Founded in 2000, SIOG strives to improve cancer care for the older population through effectively developing and equipping geriatric oncology health professionals. As part of its many contributions to this field, SIOG provides clinical guidelines for treating older patients with cancer. These guidelines focus on many topics, including geriatric assessments, surgery and radiation treatments, and how to approach different types of cancer in older adults.

Portal of Geriatrics Online Education (POGOe)

Visit the Portal of Geriatrics Online Education (POGOe) to find free digital education materials in the field of geriatrics and gerontology. These expert-contributed learning tools and videos are geared toward both teachers and students to promote better understanding of geriatric principles and skills.