Gait Speed vs. VES-13: A Pilot Study Comparing Screening Tools to Determine the Need for a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in Senior Women with Breast Cancer

J Med Imaging Radiat Sci. 2019 Dec;50(4):551-556. doi: 10.1016/j.jmir.2019.06.053. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


Background/objectives: Patients aged 70 years and older may be suboptimally treated with cancer therapy because of the lack of clinical trial data in this population. The Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment can be time consuming, and access to geriatricians is limited. This study aims to determine whether gait speed (GS) analysis is equivalent to the widely accepted Vulnerable Elders Survey 13 (VES-13) in identifying vulnerable or frail patients in need of a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment.

Methods: A pilot prospective cohort study was carried out at a tertiary cancer centre in Toronto, Canada, in a radiation oncology breast follow-up clinic. GS analysis and VES-13 were completed by each patient at the same clinic visit. GS of <1 meter/second (m/s) and VES-13 score ≥3 were considered abnormal. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and Kappa characteristic were calculated for GS compared with VES-13.

Results and discussion: Twenty-nine participants aged 70 years and older with any stage of breast cancer were included. The GS was 67% sensitive and 95% specific for abnormal VES-13 scores. The GS had an 86% positive predictive value and 86% negative predictive value for abnormal scores on VES-13. Overall, the GS showed a substantial strength of agreement with the VES-13 (kappa 0.66, P < .0001).

Conclusion: The GS analysis compared very well with VES-13 scores, and this may be a reasonable alternative to VES-13 screening. This pilot data warrant further study in a larger group of patients.

Keywords: Geriatric oncology; VES-13; frailty screening; gait speed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking Speed / physiology*