(HealthDay News) — Preexisting conditions that affect physical function and quality of life are common among older adults with poor-prognosis cancers, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Mazie Tsang, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), linked with Medicare claims (1998 to 2016), to identify 2105 older adults (mean age, 76 years) diagnosed with poor-prognosis cancers (cancers with a median survival of one year or less). The prevalence of preexisting geriatric and palliative conditions was assessed.

The researchers found that after adjusting for gender, cancer type, and HRS survey time before the first Medicare claim for a poor-prognosis cancer, functional impairment and falls were highest among adults aged 85 years and older, while adults aged 65 to 74 years were less likely to have an advance directive. Women had a higher rate of pain and physical impairment in an adjusted analysis. Race and socioeconomic status predicted difficulty with mobility and instrumental activities of daily living, living alone, and advance directive completion.


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“Older adults with poor prognosis cancers have an average life expectancy of less than one year. They represent an especially vulnerable group of patients,” Tsang said in a statement. “Based on our findings, all older adults with poor prognosis cancers should be assessed for preexisting conditions that are routinely managed by primary care practitioners, geriatricians, and palliative care practitioners. Our findings are foundational to improving the holistic care of older adults with poor prognosis cancers.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology industry.

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