Objective: To examine the potential impact of elderly age on
response to participation in a structured, multidisciplinary
quality-of-life (QOL) intervention for patients with advanced cancer
undergoing radiation therapy.
Methods: Study design was a randomized stratified, two group,
controlled clinical trial in the setting of a tertiary care comprehensive
cancer center. Subjects with newly diagnosed cancer and an estimated
5-year survival rate of 0%–50% who required radiation therapy were
recruited and randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a
standard care group. The intervention consisted of eight 90-min sessions
designed to address the five QOL domains of cognitive, physical,
emotional, spiritual, and social functioning. QOL was measured using
Spitzer uniscale and linear analogue self-assessment (LASA) at baseline
and weeks 4, 8, and 27.
Results: Of the 103 study participants, 33 were geriatric (65
years or older), of which 16 (mean age 72.4 years) received the
intervention and 17 (mean age 71.4 years) were assigned to the standard
medical care. The geriatric participants who completed the intervention
had higher QOL scores at baseline, at week 4 and at week 8, compared to
the control participants.
Significance of results: Our results demonstrate that
geriatric patients with advanced cancer undergoing radiation therapy will
benefit from participation in a structured multidisciplinary QOL
intervention. Therefore, geriatric individuals should not be excluded from
participating in a cancer QOL intervention, and, in fact, elderly age may
be an indicator of strong response to a QOL intervention. Future research
should further explore this finding.