Variety of Factors Decrease Health-Related Quality of Life in Geriatric Patients
Kristie L. Kahl
Additional physical and mental components may seriously affect health-related quality of life in older patients with cancer. However, these factors are unfortunately often overlooked, according to study results published in Cancer.
Almost two-thirds of the 15 million U.S. patients with cancer are considered to be a part of the geriatric population – at least 65 years or older. Among this age group, certain issues can fall by the waste side, including financial needs, limited social support, unaddressed symptoms and lingering comorbidities.
“As the population of older adults with cancer continues to grow, the most important factors contributing to their health-related quality of life remain unclear,” the researchers wrote.
A total of 1,457 patients with cancer aged 65 or older participated in a telephone survey to evaluate physical, psychological, social and spiritual factors associated with health-related quality of life.
The researchers measured survey outcomes using the Physical Component Summary and Mental Component Summary scores of the 12-Item Short Form Survey (SF-12) from the Medical Outcomes Study.
Participants were and average of 74 years old, however, they did range in age from 65 to 99 years. They were approximately 19 months from diagnosis – most commonly breast and prostate cancers – and 28.1 percent were actively going through treatment.
In the Physical Component Summary, the most relevant factors included symptom severity, comorbidity scores, leisure-time physical activity and having physical support needs. In the Mental Component Summary, the most relevant factors included patients having emotional support needs, symptom severity scores and the number of financial hardship events.
Symptoms associated with physical components were fatigue, pain, disturbed sleep and drowsiness. Similarly, those found to affect mental components were fatigue, problems remembering things, disturbed sleep and lack of appetite.
The researchers did acknowledge that the study was limited. For example, because it was not a controlled experiment, they were unable to prove whether or how much symptoms and/or circumstance might influence quality of life for older cancer patients, and whether spiritual factors could have had an influence.
“The findings of the current study support the importance of addressing persistent symptoms, managing comorbidities, promoting leisure-time physical activity, and addressing financial challenges,” the researchers wrote. “A long-term comprehensive approach is needed to ensure the well-being of older adults with cancer.”