Falls in older adults with cancer: Evaluation by oncology providers

Academic Article


  • © 2015 by American Society of Clinical Oncology. Purpose: Falls in older adults are common. Screening for falls is quick, simple, and important because falls increase the risk of morbidity and mortality in older patients with cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate oncology providers' recognition of and response to falls in older patients with cancer. Materials and Methods: From a sample of older patients with cancer who completed a geriatric assessment blinded to oncology providers, we identified patients who self-reported falls within the past 6 months. Their history and physical and/or clinic notes completed by an oncology provider were reviewed for the following: documentation of falls, gait assessment, referral to geriatrics or physical and/or occupational therapy, and measurement of 25-hydroxy vitamin D level. Results: In our sample of older patients with cancer who reported at least one recent fall (N = 125), the average age was 72 years (range, 65 to 93 years), 78% were female, and 62% had a breast cancer diagnosis. Chart reviews showed that 13 (10%) had falls documented, 25 (20%) had a gait assessment, eight (6%) were referred, and 21 (17%) had vitamin D level measured. Conclusion: We found that only 10% of older patients with cancer who self-reported a recent fall had appropriate medical record documentation. Oncologists are often the primary care providers for older patients and are largely unfamiliar with the frequency and impact of falls in this population. There is a need to increase awareness of falls prevalence and consequences among oncology providers in order to provide timely interventions to reduce the risks associated with falls.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Guerard EJ; Deal AM; Williams GR; Jolly TA; Nyrop KA; Muss HB
  • Start Page

  • 470
  • End Page

  • 474
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 6