For the last 20 years, I have been actively involved in treating older patients with cancer. As life expectancy has been increasing, the number of older patients with cancer has also been increasing. They have become the majority of the patients that we evaluate and treat, and as such, they need to become the focus of our endeavors.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has organized the 65+ Clinical Geriatric Group, part of its Cancer and Aging program, to achieve that goal. The group is composed of experts in geriatrics, finance, nutrition, occupational therapy, music therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychiatry, social work, palliative care, medical and surgical oncology. We meet on a monthly basis to plan, on an ongoing basis, the building of an infrastructure for multidisciplinary geriatric oncology care in the institution. The work of the 65+ Clinical Geriatric Program to date has demonstrated that a geriatric evaluation and support program can be conducted in the setting of a comprehensive cancer center. Future activities will include development of institutional guidelines for multidisciplinary geriatric care and further research in this area. We need guidelines for treating our aging cancer population; they deserve nothing less.