Use of a Chemotherapy Toxicity Prediction Tool to Decrease Risks for Hospitalization in Older Patients

Cureus. 2022 Apr 25;14(4):e24465. doi: 10.7759/cureus.24465. eCollection 2022 Apr.


Objectives Performance status (PS) scales such as the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) PS and the Karnofsky Performance Index have limited utility in selecting therapies and predicting related adverse events in older patients with cancer. In July 2016, medical oncologists at our institution adopted the Cancer and Aging Research Group toxicity prediction score (CARG), a toxicity prediction tool, to identify patients who are "fit" for chemotherapy versus those who are "frail" and may experience severe complications. Methods Our retrospective review included referrals of beneficiaries 75 years of age and older who received standard systemic therapy and patients of the same age whose treatment was modified due to CARG. We compared the score's utilization six months before and after its incorporation and then assessed how its application impacted admissions, emergency department (ED) visits, and medical management. Results Thirty-eight patients with a mean age of 81 years met the inclusion criteria. Their diagnoses included gastrointestinal (37%), lung (21%), hematologic (18%), breast (10.5%), genitourinary (3%), and other (10.5%) malignancies. CARG was documented for 12.5% of systemic therapy recipients before its adoption and 41% of recipients after adoption. Its use was limited by the reliance on physicians to perform scoring during time-constrained patient encounters. Patients had fewer mean inpatient admissions (0.7 versus 2.3), admission days (4.3 versus 8), and ED visits (1.1 versus 2.5) when management was modified based on the score. Conclusion CARG assessment may facilitate a safer and more tailored approach to cancer care in older patients than conventional PS scales alone. Its integration into patient screening would increase its application and better define its potential predictive capacity to decrease risks for hospitalization.

Keywords: chemotherapy-related toxicity; eastern cooperative oncology group (ecog); geriatric assessment; geriatric oncology; medical frailty; military medicine; older adult; quality improvement research; risks for hospitalization; treatment decisions.