Development of a comprehensive multidisciplinary geriatric oncology center, the Thomas Jefferson University Experience

J Geriatr Oncol. 2014 Apr;5(2):164-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Feb 1.


Background: The proportion of older patients with cancer is expected to grow exponentially in the next two decades. This population has large heterogeneity and it is well known that chronologic age is a poor predictor of outcomes. Research has shown that these patients are best served with a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) to formulate individualized treatment plans for better outcomes. However, the best model for CGA has yet to be determined.

Materials and methods: Our objective was to develop a highly functional model for the establishment of a comprehensive multidisciplinary geriatric oncology center in the setting of a university based NCI-designated cancer center. Each patient is evaluated by medical oncology, geriatric medicine, pharmacy, social work and nutrition. Expert navigation is provided to enhance the patient experience. At the conclusion, the inter-professional team meets to review each case and formulate a comprehensive treatment plan. The patient is classified as Fit, Vulnerable, or Frail based on the complete CGA.

Results: The average age of patients seen was 80.7 with the most common diagnoses being breast, colorectal and lung cancers. Twenty four percent of patients were determined to be Fit, 47% Vulnerable, and 29% Frail. Twenty one percent of patients determined to be Frail by CGA received an ECOG score of 0-1 by the oncologist. Our pharmacists made specific recommendations in over 75% of patients and social work provided assistance in over 50% of patients.

Conclusions: We were able to observe some interesting trends such as potential discordance with ECOG score and assessment of Fit/Vulnerable/Frail but due to limitations in the data, this paper is not able to illustrate definitive correlations. Several challenges with the development of the clinic include 1) patient related issues, 2) navigation, 3) financial reimbursement, 4) referral patterns, and 5) coordination of care during office hours. We feel that we have been able to establish a model for a comprehensive multidisciplinary geriatric oncology evaluation center in the setting of a university based cancer center.

Keywords: Adult; CGA; Geriatric; Multidisciplinary; Oncology; Senior; University.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comprehensive Health Care / standards*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Geriatrics*
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States