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New project to improve care for older cancer patients

RM Partners has today launched a new programme to deliver personalised care for breast cancer patients over 70 years of age at The Royal Marsden.

Cancer is mostly a disease of older adults, with 50% of cancer incidence and 70% of cancer-related mortality occurring in individuals aged over 65 years. Older individuals are also the fastest growing segment of the general population, and the burden of cancer in this age group is estimated to increase.

The aim of the new Senior Adult Oncology Programme (SAOP) is to improve their care and experience through the provision of individual treatment plans, supportive care from a range of healthcare professionals, and strategies to reduce treatment-related side effects and improve quality of life.

The programme involves a dedicated multi-disciplinary team including an oncologist, an advanced nurse practitioner, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a pharmacist and a dietician. They will work alongside tumour-specific teams, the Adult Psychology Support Service, speech and language therapists, palliative care, pastoral care and community services, to deliver personalised care to older adults with breast cancer.

This new service is designed to:

  • Create individualised medical treatment plans for older patients with cancer
  • Inform patients and their families on all available and appropriate treatment options
  • Detect the warning signs of not immediately apparent problems and recommend appropriate interventions
  • Provide strategies for reducing treatment-related side effects and increasing day-to-day functional abilities and quality of life
  • Meet the rehabilitative needs of each patient
  • Identify and avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions, including interactions between medications and over-the-counter supplements
  • Provide each patient with an optimised nutrition and lifestyle plan
  • Offer easy access to supportive care professionals to maximise each patient’s social, emotional, spiritual and psychological support
  • Help address issues with support in the community and financial aspects and family/caregiver concerns.

The new service, which will initially run for 12 months, will be based in the Breast Unit medical oncology clinics in Sutton. It will be available for older patients with breast cancer referred for consideration of systemic anticancer treatment. If successful, it will be gradually expanded to include older patients at the Royal Marsden with all types and stages of cancer requiring anticancer treatments.

Dr Nicolo Battisti, Clinical Research Fellow in Medical Oncology at The Royal Marsden and clinical lead  for the service, said: ‘There is now clear evidence to support the implementation of multi-disciplinary clinical models dedicated to improving the care of older adults with cancer. Our new service aims to address their complex needs, reduce their risk of over- and under-treatment and reduce their risk of complications from anticancer treatments.’