Completion of radiotherapy is associated with the Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 score in elderly patients with cancer

J Geriatr Oncol. 2014 Jan;5(1):20-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Objectives: Vulnerability assessment of geriatric patients with cancer may contribute to improved anti-cancer treatment with maximal results and minimal side effects. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 (VES-13) score is associated with completion of radiotherapy among elderly patients with cancer.

Materials and methods: This was a prospective observational study that included patients greater than age 75 with histologically confirmed cancer disease, referred to the Department of Radiation Oncology to receive radical or palliative radiotherapy, from 2010 to 2012. VES-13 forms were filled in before the initiation of radiotherapy and scores were assigned according to a standardized scoring procedure.

Results: Of a total of 230 participants (median age 78.5 years), 41 (17.8%) did not complete radiotherapy. These patients had higher VES-13 scores (median with interquartile range: 5 [2-8.5]) compared to those who completed the treatment (3 [1-7]; P = 0.008). A VES-13 score >3 was associated with 2.14 times higher probability of not completing radiotherapy, whereas in patients with scores >7 this probability was 3.34 times higher. The association between higher VES-13 scores and non-completion of radiotherapy was independent of other factors, such as age, sex, comorbidities, type of radiotherapy, and presence of side effects.

Conclusion: Patients with higher VES-13 scores had increased probability of not completing radiotherapy in our study, and this effect was independent of other factors that might affect radiotherapy completion.

Keywords: Cancer; Elderly; Radiotherapy; Vulnerable Elders Survey-13.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Area Under Curve
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vulnerable Populations