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Review
. 2011 Dec;12(13):1249-57.
doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70040-7. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

Polypharmacy in Elderly Patients With Cancer: Clinical Implications and Management

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Review

Polypharmacy in Elderly Patients With Cancer: Clinical Implications and Management

Judith Lees et al. Lancet Oncol. .

Abstract

More and more elderly people with cancer are treated in oncology clinics worldwide every year, many of whom have comorbid disorders treated with one or more drugs. Moreover, these patients might also take self-prescribed over-the-counter drugs or complementary and alternative medicines, which they might not tell their doctor about. Initiation of chemotherapy with one or more cytotoxic or targeted agents and drugs for treatment of cancer symptoms or toxic effects related to treatment can result in polypharmacy. We examine the clinical implications of polypharmacy. Challenges for the medical teams who treat elderly patients with cancer include identification of what drugs are actually being taken by the patient, avoidance or management of any adverse effects or drug interactions, and reassessing the patient's overall treatment. We address these issues and propose practical recommendations for management of treatment for elderly patients with cancer.

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