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Wilmot Cancer Institute / Specialty Services / Geriatric Oncology

Geriatric Oncology

Wilmot’s Geriatric Oncology Clinic is one of the few programs in the nation that specializes in providing older patients with cancer the highly customized care you need. No matter what kind of cancer you have, if you have cancer, you can be referred to a doctor in our clinic who will work hand-in-hand with your other oncologists. We are also able to work with older patients who do not have a current oncologist. In that case, we will perform our assessment, then refer you to the oncologists we feel can best help you.

Why choose Geriatric Oncology?

Being older and having cancer presents special challenges:

  • If you are an active person who is 70 or over, you may be looking for cancer care that recognizes your desire to return to an active life.
  • If you have medical conditions besides cancer, there is less known about how safe and effective cancer treatments may be for you.
  • Since most cancer research is done with younger adults, treatments that are considered standard may not work as well for you.

The Geriatric Oncology Clinic was designed to help you with these challenges. We provide care at both Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital — a recognized leader in geriatric care.

We will perform a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment, which identifies all of the health conditions that could impact your cancer care. With this information, we are able to provide your oncologists with highly personalized guidance on your cancer treatment. For example:

  • Should chemotherapy be started gradually?
  • Though you are older, are you healthy enough to receive the standard treatment given to younger adults?
  • Are there special considerations that need to be made based on memory or balance issues?
  • Do other medications need to be adjusted while you are receiving cancer treatment?

The result is cancer care that is better tolerated, prevents unnecessary hospitalizations, and helps increase your chance of an excellent outcome.

Our Team

Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment

The most important diagnostic tool that we use is the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment.

This assessment is completed when we first meet with patients. It covers a wide variety of issues that can impact cancer care for an older adult:

  • Current health and medical conditions
  • Level of physical ability
  • Issues with memory or falling
  • Cancer symptoms
  • Side effects from treatment
  • Medications that could affect chemotherapy
  • Home care situation

The assessment takes about two hours. It is completed by a multidisciplinary team of experts, including a geriatric oncologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a nutritionist and a social worker.

With the information we collect, we are then able to provide your other cancer doctors with specific guidance on your cancer care. We will also provide you and your loved ones with very specific information that could help prevent treatment side effects or a decrease in your physical and mental functioning. 

The Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment improves your care in several ways. It makes your treatment easier to tolerate and less likely to cause a decline in your health. Most importantly, it improves your chances of having an excellent outcome.

The Geriatric Oncology Clinic is the only program in the area with a special expertise in the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. We have helped hundreds of older cancer patients and their doctors with our highly thorough and caring approach.