Caring for cancer patients age 70 and beyond
The average age of cancer patients in the United States is 70 years old yet many seniors are not offered certain cancer therapies because of concerns they will experience more severe side effects than a younger person. At Paoli Hospital we believe that older adults can and do benefit from cancer treatments, and that other medical conditions must be considered when developing a treatment plan. Our Senior Oncology Program is specifically designed for patients age 70 and older who’ve been diagnosed with cancer and want to explore the variety of appropriate treatment options available to them—regardless of age.
At Paoli Hospital we offer a broad range of senior cancer services including screenings and early detection, cancer prevention studies, and advanced treatment for patients with breast, prostate, lung, colorectal and gynecologic cancers as well as melanoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
Paoli’s cancer program is accredited by the American College of Surgeons as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program.
Comprehensive geriatric assessment for senior cancer patients
The cornerstone of the Senior Oncology Program is a comprehensive geriatric assessment. This helps us identify any issues directly related to the aging process which can be affected during cancer treatment. We evaluate you for:
- Physical strength
- Personal nutrition
- Medications (including over-the-counter)
- Risk of falling
- Social support
Our team will assess these concerns and develop a personalized plan to maximize the effectiveness of cancer treatments and minimize potential side effects. The assessment is also conducted throughout treatment to monitor the impact of therapy and make modifications as needed.
Clinical expertise in caring for senior cancer patients
The Senior Oncology Program is staffed by a multidisciplinary team with cancer experts specially trained in treating older adults. Our team includes:
- Medical oncologist
- Radiation oncologist
- Oncology nurses
- Oncology social worker
- Registered dietitian
- Physical therapist
Our staff members will work with your primary care physician or our board-certified geriatricians to manage any specific geriatric syndromes that are identified.
NICHE designation benefits senior cancer patients at Paoli
Paoli Hospital, along with all of Main Line Health’s acute care hospitals, has received NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) designation, which is an indication of our commitment to elder care excellence. This model of care focuses on patients and families, addressing issues unique to older people with a commitment to improving care outcomes. Our senior oncology care team has special skills, training and sensitivity when it comes to elder care.
Patients benefit from ongoing senior oncology research
Our research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in 2008 identified five evaluations which can help oncologists determine which of their patients age 70 and over are most likely to tolerate and benefit from chemotherapy. Our team routinely uses tests with all of our patients age 70 and above to help ensure that we are providing the most appropriate therapies.
Our physicians are routinely involved in the investigation of new, therapeutic medical treatments for various cancers. As part of the Main Line Health National Cancer institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP)—one of only 46 sites in the country—the Paoli Hospital Cancer Center offers patients access to innovative options through NCI-sponsored clinical trials in the areas of prevention, screening, treatment and quality of life.