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Geisinger Cancer Institute

Geriatric Oncology

Geriatric Oncology Program at Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s Henry Cancer Center

The Geriatric Oncology Program at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center’s Henry Cancer Center focuses on the special needs of the aging population and provides optimal cancer care for adults aged 75 and older.

Treatment

Older patients have unique needs because of their often complex medical histories, numerous prescription drugs, social situations, possible problems with cognitive dysfunction related to age, and general diminution of organ function that occurs naturally in this age group. These patients may have the following issues:

  • Less able to tolerate certain cancer treatments
  • Decreased reserve (the capacity to respond to disease and treatment)
  • Other medical problems in addition to cancer
  • Inability to perform basic activities (dressing, bathing, eating) or more advanced activities (using transportation, shopping, or handling finances)
  • Lack of access to transportation, social support, or financial resources

Geisinger has developed a simple screening process to evaluate geriatric-related medical needs as well as social issues to determine if the patient qualifies for admittance into the Geriatric Oncology Program. 

Once a patient is admitted into the program, a more advanced medical assessment is completed. Trained geriatric staff members evaluate the patient’s current medications, cognitive ability, overall health, mobility, and social issues.

Patients will meet with a medical oncologist, geriatrician, social worker, and nutritionist, all of whom collaborate to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

The team’s decisions and recommendations are then presented to the patient and his or her family, as well as to the patient’s primary physician. After these discussions, treatment for the patient’s cancer is initiated.

Geisinger is taking part in the Geriatric Oncology Consortium, which gives patients access to a large number of national clinical trials that are specifically designed for the older population.

The Geriatric Oncology Program is the first such center designed for senior cancer patients in northeastern Pennsylvania.

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