Symptom Management in Geriatric Oncology: Practical Treatment Considerations and Current Challenges
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- Barford, K.L. & D’Olimpio, J.T. Curr. Treat. Options in Oncol. (2008) 9: 204. doi:10.1007/s11864-008-0062-4
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Symptom management of the actively treated elderly cancer patient represents an undertreated and disproportionately understudied cohort in oncology. There is a dearth of specific recommendations or guidelines regarding drug selection, dosing, and side effects which account for changes in aging physiology, pharmacokinetics, and idiosynchratic reactions. In treating cardinal symptoms and clusters of symptoms including pain, constipation, fatigue/weakness, nausea/vomiting, mucositis/xerostomia, and nutritional depletion syndromes such as malabsorption and anorexia/cachexia, most clinicians base their therapeutic decisions on individual experience. Depending on relative interest and level of competency, symptom management is often narrow in scope, frequently ineffective, and not based on evidence. We discuss these issues in a practical format, by surveying and comparing available core literature to the extent that it readily exists and by incorporating our own experiences.