When Lorraine Griggs’ 86-year-old father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was treated with 35 rounds of radiation, though he had a long list of other serious medical issues, including diabetes, kidney disease and high blood pressure. The treatment left him frailer, Griggs recalls.
A few years later, when his prostate cancer reoccurred, Griggs’ father received a different kind of cancer care. Before his doctor devised a treatment plan, she ordered what’s known as a geriatric assessment. It included a complete physical and medical history, an evaluation by a physical therapist, a psychological assessment and a cognitive exam. The doctor also asked her father about his social activities, which included driving to lunch with friends and grocery shopping with some assistance.
“When the doctor saw how physically active and mentally sharp my father was at 89 years of age, but that he had several chronic, serious medical problems, including end stage kidney disease, she didn’t advise him to have aggressive treatment like the first time around,” says Griggs, who lives in Rochester, N.Y.