Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment

Darryl Wieland, PhD, MPH; Victor Hirth, MD, MHA


Cancer Control. 2003;10(6) 

In This Article


Background: As an adjunct to the general and cancer-specific clinical and diagnostic examinations, comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) is an integral tool that examines factors affecting the course of disease and the outcome of treatment. The principal areas of focus of the CGA include the patient's functional, physical, mental, emotional, pharmacotherapeutic, and socioeconomic status.
Methods: We describe the role of CGA in the identification and management of frail elderly patients. The literature is reviewed to outline the components, programmatic configurations, and process of CGA. Information from systematic reviews of clinical trials of different CGA program models is summarized, and observations relating to the research agenda concerning the applicability of CGA and CGA principles to management of older cancer patients are discussed.
Results: Since age itself is not predictive of outcome in an elderly cancer patient, the CGA helps to distinguish between elderly patients who should be treated with intent to cure and those who will benefit from clinical oncologic and geriatric co-management.
Conclusions: A more accurate evaluation of prognostic indicators that includes CGA parameters could lead to a higher number of older patients being included in clinical cancer trials and being treated effectively in practice. It would also identify those who would benefit from gero-oncologic CGA and ongoing management aimed at maintaining function and community living. From the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, South Carolina.