Ongoing Geriatric Assessment Study Evaluates Care of Older Patients


Emerging results support the value of geriatric assessment in determining the risk and benefits of cancer treatment in older adults. A brief geriatric tool consisting of valid and reliable measures has been developed in the community. A group of UNC Lineberger researchers compared the differences between geriatric oncology patients at academic versus community based oncology practices in North Carolina.


From 2009 - 2011, a total of 386 patients were recruited - 283 were from UNC and 103 were from community clinics. Through the outreach of the UNC Cancer Network, several community practices participated including Nash, New Bern, Marion Shepherd, Rex Healthcare, Asheville, Seby B. Jones, Dare County, and Rex Wakefield.


Data suggest that community oncology clinics may treat more older and less functional cancer patients than academic medical centers, which may represent referral patterns. Given community oncology clinics see a large portion of elderly cancer patients, the use of geriatric assessment is especially important to determine which patients would benefit from aggressive or palliative therapy. Future directions include providing constant feedback to oncology physicians with simplified results of geriatric asseessment domains and evaluating changes in physician practice and outcomes.


Read more about the ongoing LCCC0916 Carolina Senior study.


Fellows Training in Geriatrics as part of the UNC Lineberger Geriatric Oncology Training Program


In 2011, the UNC

Center for Aging and Health/Division of Geriatric Medicine  received its second four-year $1.5 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to develop a program entitled “Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics.”


“As our population ages, 40-50 percent of specialists’ patients will be older,” explains Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, professor of medicine, director of the UNC Center for Aging and Health and principal investigator. “These patients have complex needs due to the number of chronic conditions they have and the number of medicines they take."


With the support of this grant, all current and future Hematology/Oncology fellows will get training in the basic principles of geriatric care as well as participating in interactive case presentations with faculty. "The fellows study basic geriatric principles such as falls and dementia and apply them to current oncology treatment," says Hy Muss, MD, director of UNC's Geriatric Oncology Program. "They are the workforce and leadership of tommorrow."


In addition to the support of Dr. Busby-Whitehead and the UNC Geriatrics Division, we have developed a three-year Geriatric Oncology program that offers the opportunity for Board Certification in both Geriatrics and Medical Oncology. Trevor Jolly, MD, and Grant Williams, MD, are currently trainees in this program. Emily Guerard, MD, will join the team this July as a fellow as well.



The UNC Lineberger Geriatric Oncology Program held its third annual retreat on November 29, 2012. Program members presented research and heard scientific presentations from colleagues at Duke and Wake Forest Universities. The group then discussed areas of possible collaboration. Pictured from left - right: Drs. Jan Busby-Whitehead, Hy Muss, Arati Rao (Duke), Harvey Cohen (Duke), Heidi Klepin (Wake Forest) and Julia Lawrence (Wake Forest). View more photos.


Featured Geriatric Oncology Clinical Trials

07-1386: Chemotherapy and Radiation for Elderly Patients with Malignant Glioma


LCCC1011: A Phase II Trial of Bendamustine in Combination with Rituximab in Older Patients with Previously Untreated Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma


LCCC1015: Use of Palliative Performance and Symptom Distress Scales in Older Patients with Advanced Ovarian Cancer


LCCC1206: Predicting Outcomes of Cystectomy and Chemotherapy in Older Patients with Bladder Cancer


LCCC1224: Predicting Outcomes of Radiation Therapy in Older Patients with Head and Neck Cancer


LCCC1208: Biologic and Geriatric Assessment Predictors of Toxicity in Older Patients with Head and Neck Cancer  


For more information about Geriatric Oncology clinical trials at UNC, call 919-966-4432. For more information about Geriatric Oncology clinical trials offered offsite, call 919-966-7359.




Core Lectures in Geriatrics Available


Core Lectures in Geriatrics: The Alliance for Geriatric Education in Specialties (“AGES”) Curriculum was developed for a grant to UNC-Chapel Hill from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation (Las Vegas, NV).

Presentations focus on such topics as delirium, dementia, geriatric assessment, physiology of aging, latrogenic injuries, medication use in the older patient, and transitional care. Sit to Stand and Stand to Walk videos are also available.


View all education and training materials.


More Information


For more information about the Geriatric Oncology Program, including how to refer a patient, visit the program's website.


UNC Lineberger    N.C. Cancer Hospital    Clinical Trials     Clinical Programs    Comprehensive Cancer Support


For questions about all clinical trials at UNC, contact the UNC Lineberger Protocol Office at 919-966-4432 or (toll-free) 1-877-668-0683. For questions about clinical trials offered at other sites, contact the UNC Cancer Network at 919-966-7359 or (toll-free) 1-877-668-0683.


To make an appointment at the N.C. Cancer Hospital for one of your patients, visit our web page for referring physicians. You may also contact the Carolina Consultation Center at 1-800-862-6264.