Open Journal Systems

Specialist geriatric services: A necessity within the radiotherapy workforce

Omar Abdel-Rahman ()


A large proportion of cancer patients receiving outpatient chemotherapy and radiotherapy services are more than 70 years old. For this subgroup of patients, a general clinical evaluation may not be sufficient to determine an individual’s treatment strategy as there are other non-stand¬ard medical issues that concern the elderlies such as polypharmacy, the need for extra social care, and accessibility to information[1]. In addition, these patients also have increased risks of reduced mobility, as well as emotional and financial difficulties.


Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate geriatric as-sessment (GA) into routine medical practice in order to improve individualized care[2,3]. Geriatric assessment is a comprehensive process that evaluates a senior patient’s medical, emotional, social and functional capacity[4]. In the current issue of AMOR, Louise Hogan and Anita O’Donovan from Trinity College Dublin evaluated the experience of elderly patients who used radiotherapy services in Ireland[5]. This was conducted through a number of questions directed at a focus group of elderly cancer patients, assessing different spheres of social dif-ficulties associated with undergoing radiotherapy in this age group.


They found that it is important to focus on providing essential information to patients in a calm setting at an appropriate time. They also recommended establishing proper support groups for elderly patients receiving radi-otherapy, as well as encouraging one-to-one discus-sions between patients and members of the healthcare team regarding possible side effects of treatment.


In conclusion, it is evident that specialist geriatric ser-vices within radiotherapy departments are a necessity, given the large number of elderly patients receiving radi-otherapy and the specificity of their medical and social needs. It is also believed that a treatment strategy based on a personalized GA for elderly patients will improve the overall treatment efficacy and minimize unwanted complications[6].


Conflict of Interest
The author declares no potential conflict of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


geriatric services; patient care; radiotherapy

Full Text:



Dettino A. Comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA): Is it necessary for treatment of cancer patients? Interdisciplinary efforts and importance of its implementation in a cancer center program in Latin America. J Geriatr Oncol 2014; 5(Suppl 2): S5. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2014.09.013.

Versteeg KS, Konings IR, Lagaay AM, van de Loosdrecht AA, Verheul HMW. Prediction of treatment-related toxicity and outcome with geriatric assessment in elderly pa-tients with solid malignancies treated with chemotherapy: A systematic review. Ann Oncol 2014; 25(10): 1914–1918. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdu052.

Wildiers H, Heeren P, Puts M, Topinkova E, Janssen-Heijnen MLG, Extermann M, Falandry C, Artz A, Brain E, Colloca G, Flamaing J, Karnakis T, Kenis C, Audisio RA, Mohile S, Repetto L, Van Leeuwen B, Milisen K, Hurria A. International Society of Geriatric Oncology Consensus on geriatric assessment in older patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol 2014; 32(24): 2595–2603. doi: 10.1200/jco.2013.54.8347.

Puts MTE, Hardt J, Monette J, Girre V, Springall E, Alibhai MH. Use of geriatric assessment for older adults in the oncology setting: A systematic review. J Nat Cancer Inst 2012; 104(15): 1134–1164. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs285.

Hogan L, O’Donovan A. Older people’s experience of radiotherapy services. Adv Mod Oncol Res 2016; 2(2): 105–115. doi: 10.18282/amor.v2.i2.107.

Lichtman S M. Polypharmacy: Geriatric oncology evaluation should become mainstream. J Clin Oncol 2015; 33(13): 1422–1423. doi: 10.1200/jco.2014.60.3548.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Omar Abdel-Rahman

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.