Drugs & Aging

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 519–536 | Cite as

Medication Problems in Older, Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients in Canada: How Common are They?

A Prospective Pilot Study
  • Martine T. E. Puts
  • Beatriz Costa-Lima
  • Johanne Monette
  • Veronique Girre
  • Christina Wolfson
  • Gerald Batist
  • Howard Bergman
Original Research Article



Prescribing for older patients is challenging and complex. Cancer patients are at a considerable increased risk of drug-related problems because they typically receive a large number of medications during their cancer treatment, both for the cancer itself and for supportive care. Few studies have examined the scope of this problem in older newly diagnosed cancer patients.


To investigate the number and severity of potential drug problems and factors associated with the occurrence of potential drug problems in older newly diagnosed cancer patients.


This prospective pilot study was conducted in newly diagnosed cancer patients aged ≥65 years recruited in the Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Vigilance Santé software was used to identify the presence and type of potential drug problems. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify factors associated with the presence of one or more severe or moderately severe potential drug problems.


There were 112 participants with a mean age of 74.2 years, and 70% were women. A total of 103 patients (92%) were taking medications. The median number of medications per patient was 5 (interquartile range 3–9) and a total of 247 potential drug problems were identified. Sixty-four patients (62.1%) had a potential drug problem of any level of severity and 49 patients had a potential moderate/severe drug problem identified (47.6%). Two (0.8%) potential drug problems of the most severe level were identified, 122 warnings (49.4%) of all potential problems were of moderate severity and 123 warnings (49.8%) were at the least severe level. Factors associated with having one or more moderate/severe potential drug problems were taking five or more drugs and age ≥76 years.


The majority of older newly diagnosed cancer patients in this study were taking at least one medication and the median number of medications per patient was 5. Published studies have shown that medication problems are common in community-dwelling older persons, but they are mostly of low severity. In this group of older newly diagnosed cancer patients, potential medication problems were also found to be common; however, half of the potential problems identified were of moderate severity.


Gait Speed Adverse Drug Event Community Pharmacist Inappropriate Medication Potential Drug Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work of Dr M. Puts was funded by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Cancer Society through an award of the National Cancer Institute of Canada. No other sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this study. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study. The authors thank all patients who have participated in this study as well as the staff and volunteers of the Segal Cancer Centre for their support. The study was supported by Dr Joseph Kaufmann, Chair in Geriatric Medicine, McGill University, and the Oberlander Fund, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Jewish General Hospital.

Supplementary material

40266_2012_26060519_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (94 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 96 KB.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martine T. E. Puts
    • 1
    • 2
  • Beatriz Costa-Lima
    • 1
  • Johanne Monette
    • 1
    • 3
  • Veronique Girre
    • 3
    • 4
  • Christina Wolfson
    • 2
    • 5
  • Gerald Batist
    • 6
  • Howard Bergman
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Solidage Research Group on Frailty and Aging, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General HospitalMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational HealthMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Division of Geriatric Medicine, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General HospitalMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of Medical OncologyInstitut CurieParisFrance
  5. 5.Division of Clinical EpidemiologyMcGill University Health Centre (MUHC)MontrealCanada
  6. 6.Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General HospitalMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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