Supportive care of the patient with cancer.
In assessing the needs of the elderly patient with cancer, we need first to determine the extent of cancer, its complications, and the type of comorbid physical and psychologic conditions. The next step is to determine the goals of our care and specifically the extent to which supportive care is needed to deal with problems. For supportive care to be truly effective, the specific underlying condition producing a complaint must be investigated. It is also important not to underestimate the significance of a symptom such as constipation. Furthermore, nutritional support requires as much planning as, for example, the control of pain. Some problems (eg, nausea, vomiting, pain, and constipation) are best managed with preventive measures; others (eg, anemia, granulocytopenia, and coagulopathies) have very specific indications for intervention. Considerable progress has been made toward understanding the mechanisms of clinical problems such as nausea and vomiting, and a more rational approach to supportive therapy is now possible. However, it is usually not possible to recommend any one intervention for a particular problem: no one intervention is uniformly effective or safe. Aggressive supportive care in elderly cancer patients can improve their ability to tolerate anti-cancer therapies and, more importantly, provide palliation of distressing symptoms.
Triozzi, PL; Goldstein, D; Laszlo, J
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