Review Article| Volume 7, ISSUE 5, P346-353, September 2016

Polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate medication use in geriatric oncology

Published:August 03, 2016DOI:


      Polypharmacy is a highly prevalent problem in older persons, and is challenging to assess and improve due to variations in definitions of the problem and the heterogeneous methods of medication review and reduction. The purpose of this review is to summarize evidence regarding the prevalence and impact of polypharmacy in geriatric oncology patients and to provide recommendations for assessment and management. Polypharmacy has somewhat variably been incorporated into geriatric assessment studies in geriatric oncology, and polypharmacy has not been consistently evaluated as a predictor of negative outcomes in patients with cancer. Once screened, interventions for polypharmacy are even more uncertain. There is a great need to create standardized interventions to improve polypharmacy in geriatrics, and particularly in geriatric oncology. The process of deprescribing is aimed at reducing medications for which real or potential harm outweighs benefit, and there are numerous methods to determine which medications are candidates for deprescribing. However, deprescribing approaches have not been evaluated in older patients with cancer. Ultimately, methods to identify polypharmacy will need to be clearly defined and validated, and interventions to improve medication use will need to be based on clearly defined and standardized methods.


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