Cancer Diagnosis Linked To Aging Symptoms of Physical Decline and Depression Interview with:

Corinne Leach, MPH, MS, PHD Strategic Director, Cancer and Aging Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303

Dr. Corrine Leach

Corinne Leach, MPH, MS, PHD
Strategic Director, Cancer and Aging Research
American Cancer Society, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Leach: Using linked data from cancer registries and the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey, we prospectively examined the short-term impact of cancer on the functioning, development of and worsening of age-related health conditions among 921 older adults who developed cancer compared to 4,605 propensity score matched controls. We found that cancer groups demonstrated greater declines in activities of daily living and physical functioning compared to controls with the greatest change for lung cancer patients. Having a cancer diagnosis increased risk for depression but did not increase the odds of developing arthritis in the hand/hip, incontinence (except for prostate cancer), or vision/hearing problems. Having a cancer diagnosis also did not exacerbate the severity of arthritis or foot neuropathy. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Leach: Findings suggest that cancer is a stronger driver for physical functioning decline and an increased risk of depression in older adults. Interventions are needed to decrease these risks. Clinicians need to prepare patients and families for this change in functioning levels and interventions that limit the declines for older cancer patients are needed. Further, health care providers need to improve the coordination of care so that patients and families are prepared for the change in functioning levels. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Leach: Future prospective studies that look at the trajectory of physical decline in younger verses older survivors over a longer period of time with multiple time points further out from diagnosis are needed to disentangle the effects of cancer and aging. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Corinne R. Leach, Keith M. Bellizzi, Arti Hurria, and Bryce Reeve. Is it my cancer or am I just getting older?: Impact of cancer on age-related health conditions of older cancer survivors. Cancer, 2016 DOI:10.1002/cncr.29914

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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