Older adults with cancer face unique challenges. These may include an increased risk of drug reactions, financial burdens, and caregiver stress. Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) is committed to providing older patients with the treatment, facilities, and support they need. We work with our patients’ primary care doctors to ensure that there is open communication about treatment and continuity of care.
The specialists in the Geriatric Service consult with MSK oncology teams on the treatment of their older patients. As geriatricians we are trained to look for subtleties in how older adults respond to cancer treatments. We advise on what precautions may need to be taken before, during, and after treatment, and can identify symptoms that are common in older adults but may present in unusual ways.
Both inpatients and outpatients can be referred to the Geriatric Service. We also offer a variety of educational programs to older adults and their caregivers and families. Learn more about the programs at MSK and in the community.
Cancer and Aging Interprofessional Team
Frailty assessment is an important marker of the older adult’s fitness for cancer treatment, independent of age. Pretreatment geriatric assessment is associated with improved mortality and morbidity outcomes but must occur in a time-sensitive manner to be useful for cancer treatment decision-making. The Geriatrics Service developed the Cancer and Aging Interdisciplinary Team (CAIT) clinic model to provide timely geriatric assessment and treatment recommendations independent of patient’s physical location.
The CAIT clinic model was developed utilizing the surge in telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The core team consists of the patient’s oncologist, geriatrician, registered nurse, pharmacist, and registered dietitian. The clinic’s format is flexible, and the various assessments can be asynchronous. Patients choose the service method: in-person, remote, or hybrid. Based on the assessment’s outcomes, the geriatrician provides recommendations and arranges interventions. An assessment summary, including life expectancy estimates and chemotoxicity risk calculator scores, is conveyed to and discussed with the treating oncologist.
The Geriatric Service offers courses and online modules to all healthcare professionals interested in the care of older adults with cancer. Visit Education and Training Programs to learn more about our educational opportunities.
The Geriatric Oncology Subspecialty Track of MSK’s Advanced Practice Provider (APP; NP/PA) Oncology Fellowship Program is designed to promote comprehensive, patient-specific care to older adults with cancer. This includes a strong emphasis on understanding geriatric syndromes, promoting patient autonomy, risk stratification prior to cancer treatment, and safe care transitions.
The goal of this comprehensive program is to prepare the APP to deliver efficient, safe, patient-centered, and specialized care to a diverse geriatric patient population as part of a collaborative, interdisciplinary healthcare team. This subspecialty track aims to prepare APPs to be outstanding clinicians and champions of the care of older adults with cancer.