Anemia and cancer in older persons.
Although the overall prevalence for many cancers is declining, cancer still remains a diagnosis more common in the elderly than in younger individuals. As the population ages, the proportion of patients with cancer who are elderly is expected to increase dramatically. Anemia occurs more often in older individuals for a variety of reasons, and its prevalence in elderly patients with cancer is significantly increasing. Although information on anemia in the elderly is limited, data on cancer patients of all ages have shown that the presence of anemia is associated with poorer prognosis and functional status. The impact of anemia on performance status in patients with cancer is matched by results from a large number of studies indicating negative effects of anemia on a wide variety of performance measures. Despite an apparent reluctance to undertake aggressive therapy in elderly patients with cancer, physicians are using a wider range of treatments with increasing frequency in this older population. Optimizing treatment outcomes in elderly patients with cancer depends on careful determination of performance status as well as the potential of therapies to treat anemia in these patients.
Penninx, BW; Cohen, HJ; Woodman, RC
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