Geriatric assessment in the management of older patients with cancer - A systematic review (update)

J Geriatr Oncol. 2022 Jul;13(6):761-777. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2022.04.008. Epub 2022 May 8.


Aim: The aim of this systematic review is to summarize all available data on the effect of a geriatric assessment in older patients with cancer, for oncologic treatment decisions, the implementation of non-oncologic interventions, patient-doctor communication, and treatment outcome. Additionally, we examined the impact of the type of assessment used.

Methods: Systematic Medline and Embase search for studies on the effect of a geriatric assessment on oncologic treatment decisions, non-oncologic interventions, communication, and outcome.

Results: Sixty-five publications from 61 studies were included. After a geriatric assessment, the oncologic treatment plan was altered in a median of 31% of patients (range 7-56%), with highest change rates in studies using a multidisciplinary team evaluation. Non-oncologic interventions were recommended in over 70% of patients, provided that an intervention plan or specific expertise was in place. A geriatric assessment led to more goals-of-care discussions and improved communication. The geriatric assessment also led to lower toxicity/complication rates (most strongly if the assessment outcomes were considered during decision making), improved likelihood of treatment completion, and improved physical functioning and quality of life in the majority of included studies.

Conclusion: A geriatric assessment can change oncologic treatment plans, leads to non-oncologic interventions, and improve communication about care planning and ageing-related issues. It can decrease toxicity/complications and improve treatment completion and patient-centred outcomes. If multidisciplinary or geriatric input is not available, having a pre-defined non-oncologic intervention plan is important. To maximize the effect on outcomes, the result of the geriatric assessment should be incorporated into oncologic decision-making.

Keywords: Cancer; Communication; Decision-making; Geriatric assessment and management; Non-oncologic interventions; Treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life