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J Geriatr Oncol. 2018 Nov;9(6):543-549. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2017.11.009. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Moving beyond symptom management towards cancer rehabilitation for older adults: Answering the 5W's.

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Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Health and Human Services, Colorado State University, 800 Oval Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College, USA. Electronic address:
Divisions of Hematology/Oncology and Gerontology, Geriatrics, & Palliative Care, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. Electronic address:


Older adults with cancer are quickly becoming the largest group of cancer survivors. Chronological age is a poor predictor of cancer treatment outcomes and of the need for rehabilitation services. While newer symptom management systems and assessments are slowly becoming used in the clinic to improve communication between providers and survivors, such assessments are rarely used to trigger a referral to rehabilitation. Cancer rehabilitation for older adults with cancer has the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease disability caused by cancer and its treatments. One barrier to referral to cancer rehabilitation remains an understanding of what cancer rehabilitation is, and who, when, where, and why to refer to rehabilitation services. This report utilizes examples of three popular geriatric, distress and symptom measures to help answer these questions.


Activities of daily living; Disabled persons; Neoplasms; Occupational therapy; Physical functioning; Physical therapy; Referral and consultation; Rehabilitation; Symptom assessment

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