Using quality of life to inform treatment decisions for older patients with cancer

The quality of life (QOL) of older patients with cancer should be a greater focus of all health care professionals involved in their care and decision-making. The Task Force of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology outlines the current thinking on the key issues of importance that address QOL needs of cancer patients who are 65 years or older.

Key recommendations and guidance from the task force on supporting good QOL in older cancer patients include:

  • QOL should be a fundamental component of cancer management no matter the patient’s age. Treatment decisions should not be based only on chronological age.
  • Health-related QOL tools should be integrated with a comprehensive geriatric assessment to develop a plan for treatment and follow-up care.
  • QOL assessments should be completed at diagnosis and repeated during and after treatment.
  • A multidisciplinary care team should manage the patient’s care, and discuss the impact of treatment choices on the patient’s QOL throughout the course of treatment, during survivorship or at the end of life.
  • Older patients should have more opportunities to participate in clinical trials and research studies on QOL.

When discussing the impact of different anticancer treatment choices with patients, each option can be weighed again the patient’s definition of QOL—identifying both QOL goals and the challenges to meeting them.

The task force says systematic QOL assessments of older patients is feasible and that "assessing and addressing QOL should not be perceived as time/resource consuming. It helps tailor the best treatment strategy and therefore has the potential to save for further time and resources down the line.""

Scotté F, et al. Annals of Oncology