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Step Count Gives Insight to GI Cancer Outcomes in Older Patients

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Older adults with gastric cancer tended to have better outcomes when they walked 2,500 steps per day or more.

Older adults with gastric or gastroesophageal cancer who walked more tended to better outcomes than those who did not walk much, according to subfindings of a study that were recently presented at the 2024 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

These findings, according to study author Dr. Efrat Dotan, highlight the need for more comprehensive assessments of this patient population that include factors outside of disease state and the type of treatment that they are on.

“The idea behind that exploratory analysis was to see if we can come up with a more objective way to evaluate these patients rather than questionnaires that are sometimes potentially biased by other factors or challenging to apply in clinic,” Dotan, who is a geriatric oncologist focusing on gastrointestinal cancers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, said in an interview.

Transcript

We also had our older patients wear a Fitbit for three days, and we tried to get an objective assessment of their function. We were able to have that in about almost 80% of our patients (who) were able to complete that task and wear the Fitbit for three days.

We were able to come up with sort of a median number of steps per day, which correlated with outcome. So, if a patient really is unable to walk, it was about 2500 steps per day, that really stands out as a challenge and something that would clearly affect outcome, versus patients who were much more active and walked more.

The idea behind that exploratory analysis was to see if we can come up with a more objective way to evaluate these patients rather than questionnaires that are sometimes potentially biased by other factors or challenging to apply in clinic.

So I hope this study will add to the growing evidence that we need as clinician taking care of older patients, and we see a lot of older patients in our clinic, we really need to think about their full picture and everything that affects their care, not just the cancer itself (and) the drug we give them and the labs, but really the more comprehensive picture that affects what happens to them.

Transcript has been edited for length and clarity.


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