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Cancer. 2007 Feb 15;109(4):802-10.

A pilot study of the vulnerable elders survey-13 compared with the comprehensive geriatric assessment for identifying disability in older patients with prostate cancer who receive androgen ablation.

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Department of Medicine (Oncology), Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.



Impairments in geriatric domains adversely affect health outcomes of the elderly. The Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) is a key component of the treatment approach for older cancer patients, but it is time consuming. In this pilot study, the authors evaluated the validity of a brief, functionally based screening tool, the Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 (VES-13), for identifying older patients with prostate cancer (PCa) with impairment in the oncology clinic setting.


Patients with PCa aged >or=70 years who actively were receiving androgen ablation treatment and who were followed within the clinics at the University of Chicago were eligible. Patients self-completed the VES-13 and CGA instruments and repeated the VES-13 1 month later. Physical performance and cognitive assessments were administered by a research assistant.


Of 50 participating patients, 50% were identified as impaired by the VES-13 (score >or=3). Sixty percent of patients scored as impaired on >or=2 tests within the CGA, exhibiting deficits in multiple domains. The reliability of the VES-13 (Pearson correlation coefficient) was 0.92. The cut-off score of 3 on the VES-13 had 72.7% sensitivity and 85.7% specificity for CGA deficits and was highly predictive for identifying impairment (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.90). Patients who had mean VES-13 scores >or=3 performed significantly worse on evaluations of activities of daily living (P = .001), physical performance (P = .002), comorbidity (P = .004), and cognitive impairment (P = .003).


Functional and cognitive impairments are highly prevalent among older patients with PCa who receive androgen ablation in oncology clinics. The current results indicated that the brief VES-13 performed nearly as well as a conventional CGA in detecting geriatric impairment in this population.

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