Practical Assessment and Management of Vulnerabilities in Older Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: ASCO Guideline for Geriatric Oncology

J Clin Oncol. 2018 Aug 1;36(22):2326-2347. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2018.78.8687. Epub 2018 May 21.


Purpose To provide guidance regarding the practical assessment and management of vulnerabilities in older patients undergoing chemotherapy. Methods An Expert Panel was convened to develop clinical practice guideline recommendations based on a systematic review of the medical literature. Results A total of 68 studies met eligibility criteria and form the evidentiary basis for the recommendations. Recommendations In patients ≥ 65 years receiving chemotherapy, geriatric assessment (GA) should be used to identify vulnerabilities that are not routinely captured in oncology assessments. Evidence supports, at a minimum, assessment of function, comorbidity, falls, depression, cognition, and nutrition. The Panel recommends instrumental activities of daily living to assess for function, a thorough history or validated tool to assess comorbidity, a single question for falls, the Geriatric Depression Scale to screen for depression, the Mini-Cog or the Blessed Orientation-Memory-Concentration test to screen for cognitive impairment, and an assessment of unintentional weight loss to evaluate nutrition. Either the CARG (Cancer and Aging Research Group) or CRASH (Chemotherapy Risk Assessment Scale for High-Age Patients) tools are recommended to obtain estimates of chemotherapy toxicity risk; the Geriatric-8 or Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 can help to predict mortality. Clinicians should use a validated tool listed at ePrognosis to estimate noncancer-based life expectancy ≥ 4 years. GA results should be applied to develop an integrated and individualized plan that informs cancer management and to identify nononcologic problems amenable to intervention. Collaborating with caregivers is essential to implementing GA-guided interventions. The Panel suggests that clinicians take into account GA results when recommending chemotherapy and that the information be provided to patients and caregivers to guide treatment decision making. Clinicians should implement targeted, GA-guided interventions to manage nononcologic problems. Additional information is available at .

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Geriatrics / methods
  • Geriatrics / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*