Prevalence and Risk of Polypharmacy Among Elderly Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy in Ambulatory Oncology Setting
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Purpose of Review
This was a single center, retrospective cross-sectional study looking into the incidence and types of drug-related problems (DRPs) detected among elderly cancer patients receiving at least three long-term medications concurrent with IV chemotherapy, and the types of intervention taken to address these DRPs. This paper serves to elucidate the prevalence and risk of polypharmacy in our geriatric oncology population in an ambulatory care setting, to raise awareness on this growing issue and to encourage more resource allocation to address this healthcare phenomenon.
DRP was detected in 77.6% of elderly cancer patients receiving at least three long-term medications concurrent with IV chemotherapy, with an average incidence of three DRPs per patient. Approximately half of DRPs were related to long-term medications. Forty percent of DRPs required interventions at the prescriber level. The use of five or more medications was shown to almost double the risk of DRP occurrence (OR 1.862, P = 0.039). Out of the eight predefined categories of DRPs, underprescribing was the most common (26.7%), followed by adverse drug reaction (25.0%) and drug non-adherence (16.2%).
Polypharmacy leading to DRPs is a common occurrence in elderly cancer patients receiving outpatient IV chemotherapy. There should be systematic measures in place to identify patients who are at greater risk of inappropriate polypharmacy and DRPs, and hence more frequent drug therapy optimization and monitoring. The identification of DRPs is an important step to circumvent serious drug-related harm. Future healthcare interventions directed at reducing DRPs should aim to assess the clinical and economic impact of such interventions.
KeywordsGeriatric oncology Polypharmacy Drug-related problems Medication therapy management Long-term medications Elderly cancer patients Outpatient chemotherapy Ambulatory care
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Ivy Goh, Olive Lai, and Lita Chew declare they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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