Comorbidity, Disability, and Geriatric Syndromes in Elderly Cancer Patients Receiving Home Health Care

By | October 5, 2006

Then needs of patients with cancer vary considerably and are influenced by patientsÕ overall health at the time of their cancer diagnosis. A paper co-authored by Center faculty member Dr. Patrick Murray examined the rates of co-morbid illness, disability and geriatric syndromes in older Ohio residents with cancer who received home health care. The paper titled ÒComorbidity, disability, and geriatric syndromes in elderly cancer patients receiving home health careÓ was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in May, 2006.

Authors examined data from Ohioans 65 years of age or older who were receiving home health care and who had been diagnosed with breast, prostate or colon cancer between August 1999 and November 2001. Data from the Outcome and Assessment Information Set, a data base that compiles comprehensive assessment forms for all home healthcare patients was evaluated to determine rates of co-morbidity, disability and geriatric syndromes. The study demonstrated that 26.4% of breast cancer patients, 12% of prostate cancer patients and 14 % of colorectal cancer patients had no comorbid conditions, disability, or geriatric syndromes. At the other end of the spectrum, 11.7%, 24.7% and 15.0% respectively in the three diagnostic groups had all three noted– comorbid conditions, disability, and a geriatric syndrome. As expected, the proportion of patient with no co-morbidity, disability or geriatric syndrome decreased with increasing age. Tools to assess the presence of co-morbid illness, disability and geriatric syndromes in older patients at the time of a cancer diagnosis may help clinicians better identify older patients more likely to benefit from standard cancer treatment and those more likely to experience adverse outcomes. (posted 10/2006) Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Patrick Murray