Introduction: Comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) gives useful information on the functional status of older cancer patients. However, its meaning for a proper selection of elderly patients before chemotherapy and, even more important, the influence of chemotherapy on the outcome of geriatric assessment is unknown.
Methods: 202 cancer patients, for whom an indication for chemotherapy was made by the medical oncologist, underwent a GA before start of chemotherapy by Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE), Groningen Frailty Index (GFI) and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). After completion of a minimum of four cycles of chemotherapy or at 6 months after the start of chemotherapy the GFI and MMSE assessment was repeated.
Results: Frailty was shown in 10% of patients by means of MMSE, 32% by MNA, 37% by GFI and in 15% by IQCODE. Compared to patients who received 4 or more cycles of chemotherapy, the MNA and MMSE scores were significantly lower for patients treated with less than 4 cycles (p = 0.001 and p = 0.04 respectively). The mortality rate after start of chemotherapy was increased for patients with low MNA and high GFI scores with hazard ratios of 2.19 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.42-3.39; p < 0.001) and 1.80 (95% CI: 1.17-2.78; p = 0.007), respectively. After adjusting for sex, age, purpose of chemotherapy and type of malignancy these hazard ratios remained significant (p < 0.001 and p = 0.004), respectively. Finally, for the 51 patients who underwent repeated post-chemotherapy evaluation by GFI and MMSE, a statistically significant deterioration for the MMSE (p = 0.041) was found but not for the GFI.
Conclusions: Both inferior MNA and MMSE scores increased the probability not to complete chemotherapy. Also, an inferior score for MNA and GFI showed an increased mortality risk after the start of chemotherapy. The mean MMSE score worsened significantly during chemotherapy.
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