Another Piece
Of the Jigsaw

Cancer Care - For Older People

Older people with cancer are the largest group affected. They are a diverse and growing group. Their appropriate care, during and beyond cancer, is an emerging field in cancer worldwide. 

Older people are identified in the Optimal Care Pathways as a 'special needs group' due to the complexity of care. The issue spoke well to the 22nd CNSA conference theme of 'The Complexity of Cancer Care: What will the future of cancer nursing look like?'. The CNSA Victorian State Group also identified care of the older person with cancer as an education priority.

With sponsorship from the Victorian Integrated Cancer Services, a pre-congress symposium was held on June 20, 2019. Utilising the recommended multidisciplinary approach, the program was divided into 3 parts. Expert content from lived experience, geriatric-oncology, pharmacology and nursing established a well-rounded overview of the complexity of care. Several current practice examples from metropolitan and regional areas described the practical application of improving care. Finally, participants were provided the opportunity to identify their own implementation goals and to identify key messages from the day.

Two nurse members of the American Cancer and Aging Research Group (CARG) recorded messages for the group on the importance of developing and utilising skills to improve care for older people with cancer. Peggy Burhenn and Carolina Uranga are key members of the CARG team that is working on a four-year nursing project. The project is demonstrating that oncology nurses gain knowledge and can implement that knowledge back in their health service. You can view their messages below.

Nearly 50 nurses from every state and territory in Australia and a couple from New Zealand at the symposium confirm that care of the older person with cancer requires elevation as an important issue in cancer care. Early evaluation feedback is positive and concludes July 5.

The symposium report is available here.

Watch Peggy's video on "Why study gerontology in cancer care"

Watch Carolina's video on "Practical ways to improve care of older people with cancer"

A poster of the Wimmera project in collaboration with the Cancer and Aging Research Group 4-year research project to improve care for older people with cancer is available here.

Other learning opportunities:

CNSA Symposium resource list

Facing cancer later in life is a short video that provides an opportunity to hear from people who have been diagnosed with cancer later in life. They speak about strategies they found useful and help us to understand more about older people's experience of cancer. John, who offered his consumer story last week, is one of the four people featured in the video.

A Common Path is a series of short videos offering support and advice for those affected by cancer from others who have travelled 'A common path'. The videos have been produced by North Eastern Melbourne Integrated Cancer Services (NEMICS)