Risk factors for falls in older patients with cancer

BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2018 Mar;8(1):34-37. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2017-001388. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Objectives: A rising number of patients with cancer are older adults (65 years of age and older), and this proportion will increase to 70% by the year 2020. Falls are a common condition in older adults. We sought to assess the prevalence and risk factors for falls in older patients with cancer.

Methods: This is a single-site, retrospective cohort study. Patients who were receiving cancer care underwent a comprehensive geriatric assessments, including cognitive, functional, nutritional, physical, falls in the prior 6 months and comorbidity assessment. Vitamin D and bone densitometry were performed.

Analysis: Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression.

Results: A total of 304 patients aged 65 or above were enrolled in this study. The mean age was 78.4±6.9 years. They had haematological, gastrointestinal, urological, breast, lung and gynaecological cancers. A total of 215 patients with available information about falls within the past 6 months were included for final analysis. Seventy-seven (35.8%) patients had at least one fall in the preceding 6 months. Functional impairment (p=0.048), frailty (p<0.001), dementia (p=0.021), major depression (p=0.010) and low social support (p=0.045) were significantly associated with the fall status in the univariate analysis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified frailty and functional impairment to be independent risk factors for falls.

Conclusions: Falls are common in older patients with cancer and lead to adverse clinical outcomes. Major depression, functional impairment, frailty, dementia and low social support were risk factors for falls. Heightened awareness and targeted interventions can prevent falls in older patients with cancer.

Keywords: activities of daily; aging; alzheimers disease; comorbidity; dementia; depression; frailty; hospitalization; injuries; living,fractures; neoplasias.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors