Frailty Prevalence and Characteristics in Older Adults with Hematologic Cancer: a Descriptive Study

Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs. 2019 Jan-Mar;6(1):43-49. doi: 10.4103/apjon.apjon_35_18.


Objective: This study investigated the prevalence of frailty in older patients with hematologic cancer and assessed the association between older patients' characteristics and frailty.

Methods: This descriptive study enrolled 90 older patients undergoing treatment for hematological malignancies at an oncology hospital. Frailty was assessed with the Edmonton Frailty Scale as not frail (0-4), apparently vulnerable (5-6), mildly frail (7-8), moderately frail (9-10), and severely frail (11-17). The association of frailty and older patient characteristics and diagnosis was assessed by logistic regression.

Results: The prevalence of frailty (mild, moderately, and severely) was 42.2%, and "apparently vulnerable" frailty was 60%. The mean scale score was 5.59 ± 3.13. Frailty was more prevalent in patients who were ≥75 years of age, had ≥4 children, were diagnosed with leukemia, and were diagnosed for ≥2 years. Gender, diagnosis, and employment were factors associated with the presence of frailty. Female gender and lack of employment were factors associated with a high risk of frailty. A diagnosis of multiple myeloma was associated with a low risk of frailty.

Conclusions: The prevalence of frailty was high in older patients. Female and unemployed patients were at high risk for frailty. Frailty characteristics of older patients with hematologic cancer highlighted the need for comprehensive geriatric assessment and frailty screening, provided prevalence and characteristics of frailty in this group of patients during treatment, and highlighted the need for holistic care approach.

Keywords: Frailty; geriatric oncology; hematology; older patients; oncology.