Associations among frailty and quality of life in older patients with cancer treated with chemotherapy

Published:August 22, 2022DOI:



      Previous studies have suggested that frailty among older adults with cancer is associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including greater chemotherapy toxicity and worse survival. However, results often do not include patient-reported outcomes, such as quality of life (QOL). The objective of this study was to evaluate frailty prior to receipt of moderately- or highly-emetogenic chemotherapy and acute changes in QOL in patients at least 65 years of age. It was hypothesized that frail patients would report greater declines in QOL.

      Materials and Methods

      Participants completed questionnaires before receiving their first infusion and again five days later. A 59-item deficit accumulation index score was created at baseline using a modified Rockwood frailty index. QOL was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G). The relationship between baseline frailty and QOL was evaluated using a dichotomized deficit accumulation index (frail vs. robust) in repeated measures ANOVA.


      Study participants (n = 151) had a mean age of 72 (SD = 4.5) and 62% were female. Nearly half (42%) were frail at baseline. Frail participants reported worse QOL at baseline compared to robust participants. Frail patients reported smaller declines in overall and physical (p < 0.0001) and emotional (p = 0.006) QOL from baseline to five days after receiving chemotherapy. At five days, frail participants reported better emotional and physical QOL compared to robust participants.


      Contrary to expectations, frail patients reported smaller declines in QOL compared to robust patients using a deficit accumulation index. These results can be used to help educate frail patients on what to expect during treatment.


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