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Interprofessional Geriatric Oncology Care Series

Older adults are experiencing cancer at a higher rate than any other population. One in three individuals over the age of 60 will be or have been diagnosed with cancer. Healthcare professionals are identifying screening strategies, treatment and decision making approaches to help manage this population's care. There are a number of challenges and factors to consider when caring for older adults with cancer. Utilizing a patient-centered and interprofessional team approach will help facilitate comprehensive and appropriate care for older adults.

This series of learning modules discusses the following areas: risk assessment, treatment options, decision making, cultural issues and factors, and nutrition.

Module 2: Decision Making for Older Adults with Cancer


B. Lynn Hutchings, M. Arch., MFA, PhD
Stella Omwega, MSW Graduate Research Assistant
Doris Chechotka, PhD
Christine Hsieh, MD
Tarae Waddell-Terry, MS

Reena Antony, MPH,BSN, Jennifer Bellot, PhD, RN, MHSA, Mary Ellen Bolden, BSW,
Cecilia Borden, EdD, RN, Nancy L. Chernett, MA,MPH, Emily R. Hajjar, PharmD, BCPS, CGP,
E. Adel Herge, OTD, OTR/L, Leigh Ann Hewston, PT, MEd, Lynn Hutchings, PhD,
Stephen Kern, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Ina Li, MD, Mary Ann McLane, PhD, MLS,
Veronica Rempusheski, PhD, RN, FAAN, Janet Townsend, MD,
Tracey Vause-Earland, MS, OTR/L, Tarae Waddell-Terry, MS, Valerie Weber, MD

The project described was supported by Grant Number #UB4HP19061 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Health Resources and Services Administration: Department of Health and Human Services. The project was funded 100% by the Department of Health and Human Services. The amount of federal funds used for this project totaled $22,887.


For older adults, cancer may be a more challenging experience due to additional health-related challenges for the patient as well as for the families involved. It is also more challenging for the healthcare team making recommendations regarding treatment options for cancer in the absence of high levels of evidence for treatment in the elderly and having to account for multiple co-morbid conditions and functional limitations often seen in older adults.

This module examines the process of decision making and factors to consider when recommending treatment for older adults with cancer.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this module, the participant will be able to:

  • Discuss points of decision-making for older adults with cancer.
  • Discuss cultural factors that influence decision-making for older adults with cancer.
  • Discuss legal and ethical concepts which impact health professionals to assist in decision-making for older adults with cancer.
  • Provide health professionals with a guide on ways to assist older adults in decision-making in a culturally sensitive manner.
Estimated time for completion: 30 minutes

Since this module will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, it is designed to track your progress allowing you to complete the module in more than one sitting. The progress tracking feature allows you to return to your previous session from any computer.

Saving and Printing Responses to Questions:

Use the Save Answer button under each response text box to save your responses. Saved responses can be viewed or updated in subsequent sessions. All responses can be printed from the last screen of the module. The Print Answers button on that screen generates a PDF document that may be saved or printed.

Technical Requirements and Notes:

This learning module uses Adobe Flash media and may require you to add a browser "plug-in" in order to display properly. Most computers already have this free plug-in installed. But, if yours does not, it is very easy to download and install. Try the module first because the software is "smart" enough to detect the Flash player. If the module doesn't begin, you will be automatically prompted to download the plug-in.

The module contains links to external websites which will open in a new browser window. Your browser's back button will not return to the module, so these new windows should be closed.

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    WEB-ID (lastname + last four digits of your SS#, i.e. smith1234):