With the fastest growing segment of population in Western countries including Australia being composed of individuals over the age of 65 years, and significant growth in cancer incidence and prevalence as a result, the evolving field of geriatric oncology represents an important area for new approaches to thinking in order to best personalise care for these patients. Incorporating geriatric assessment and management into the care of the older cancer patient has been shown to be feasible and mounting data supports the implementation of targeted geriatric care into everyday clinical oncology practice.
It is widely acknowledged that polypharmacy and the use of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) is more common in the older patient and represents a critical component of geriatric evaluation. Studies have demonstrated that PIM use has been associated with an increase in adverse drug events, hospitalisation and mortality. An important aspect of geriatric assessment and management therefore should involve thorough medication history taking, evaluation and where appropriate rationalisation in an effort to minimise the risk of both adverse events and drug interactions in a group of patients particularly vulnerable to their effects, especially when combined with systemic anti-cancer therapy.
This presentation aims to provide a brief overview of the main medication-related issues experienced by older cancer patients and outlines current and emerging evidence on how best to manage these medication conundrums.