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Identification of Potential or Preclinical Cognitive Impairment and the Implications of Sophisticated Screening with Biomarkers and Cognitive Testing

Identification of Potential or Preclinical Cognitive Impairment and the Implications of Sophisticated Screening with Biomarkers and Cognitive Testing

Teaser: 

Dr.Michael Gordon Michael Gordon, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Medical Program Director, Palliative Care, Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System, Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

The last decade has seen an enormous growth in the interest in the recognition of and intervention in those diagnosed and living with the whole range of cognitive impairment and frank dementia. In the western world, the recognition of the impact on patients, families, health care systems, and societies that dementia poses has led to great efforts to help define the indicators for current and future dementia with the intention to treat those already afflicted even with the primarily symptomatic medications that exist and to recognize those at future risk with the hope of providing counselling to forestall its future development. The idea of "early diagnosis" appears at first glance to be attractive for the purposes of future planning and research studies, but it is not clear what the benefits and risks might be if screening processes define people at risk when beneficial interventions might not yet be determined. The ethical as well as financial implications must be explored and defined before implementation of such screening becomes a normal standard of practice.practice.
Key Words: cognitive impairment, dementia, screening, biomarkers, cognitive testing.

Management of Primary Colon Cancer in Older Adults

Management of Primary Colon Cancer in Older Adults

Teaser: 

Robin McLeod, MD, Division of General Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto; Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto; Zane Cohen Digestive Diseases Clinical Research Centre; Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON.
Selina Schmocker, Zane Cohen Digestive Diseases Clinical Research Centre; Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON.
Erin Kennedy, MD, PhD, Division of General Surgery, University Health Network, University of Toronto; Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto; Zane Cohen Digestive Diseases Clinical Research Centre; Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, ON.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, and more than half of those newly diagnosed with colon cancer are over the age of 70 years. Despite the large proportion of patients over the age of 70 diagnosed with colon cancer annually, this age group is significantly underrepresented in clinical trials and, therefore, there is little high-quality evidence on which to base treatment decisions or treatment guidelines. This article reviews the management of primary colon cancer in older adults, including screening, presentation and diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up in this population.
Key words: colon cancer, colorectal cancer, screening, tumour, older adults.

Dr. Anne Horgan and Dr. Shabbir Alibhai share their views on the current status of research in Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Anne Horgan and Dr. Shabbir Alibhai share their views on the current status of research in Colorectal Cancer

Teaser: 
The incidence of colorectal cancer increases with age, with approximately 60% of patients in the US (and similar numbers in Canada) older than 65 years at diagnosis and 40% over the age of 75. As highlighted by McLeod et al in this issue, the management of older patients with colorectal cancer is challenging. The prevailing difficulty is the lack of randomized trial data to support and guide treatment decisions. Pivotal trials establishing the standard of care for this disease have tended to enroll younger patients. For example, the median age of patients enrolled in phase III studies of systemic chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer is commonly 60-64 years,1,2 with fewer than 20% of patients being 70 years and older. In the large colorectal screening studies, older patients are again under-represented, with only 15-17% of randomized patients being 70 years or older.3, 4 Similarly, elderly patients are less likely to be enrolled in surgical trials than younger patients.5 With this absence of prospective data, evidence regarding safety and efficacy of interventions in older patients with colorectal cancer has come mainly from subgroup analyses or meta-analyses of large randomized clinical trials, both in the adjuvant and metastatic disease settings. These analyses suggest that older patients gain similar benefit from chemotherapy as do younger patients, with little difference in the rates of severe toxicity.6 This should be reassuring to clinicians.  The relation between age and outcomes from colorectal cancer surgery is more complex, however. Poorer outcomes in terms of postoperative morbidity and mortality are reported with increasing age, but these are confounded by presentation with more advanced disease stage, a greater frequency of emergency surgery and fewer curative surgeries compared to younger patients.7 All of these analyses suffer from selection bias with patients in these studies generally being fit and of good performance status. Data from randomized studies will ultimately help optimize management of older patients with colorectal cancer. However, careful consideration should be given to the design of these studies.  A growing appreciation of the heterogeneity of this patient population has led to a better understanding and use of geriatric specific assessments. These assessments which evaluate functional status, comorbid medical conditions, cognitive function, psychological state, and social supports may have value in predicting postoperative complications following surgery and may help better predict tolerance to systemic therapies. Incorporation of these assessments into both the clinical trial setting and daily clinical practice is encouraged but challenging due to time constraints in busy practices. Identifying elder-specific clinical predictors of tolerability to various interventions will ultimately lead to a more tailored approach for these patients. The essential principles of managing colon cancer in the elderly are the same as in younger patients, however, as the authors state, an individualized approach is necessary. Frameworks for determining a patient’s remaining life-expectancy, risks of toxicities and operative complications, and quality of life issues must be developed and should ultimately underlie these individualized decisions. No competing financial interests declared. References: 1.    Goldberg RM, Sargent DJ, Morton RF et al. A randomized controlled trial of fluorouracil plus leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin combinations in patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer. J Clin Oncol 2004; 22: 23-30. 2.    Seymour MT, Maughan TS, Ledermann JA et al. Different strategies of sequential and combination chemotherapy for patients with poor prognosis advanced colorectal cancer (MRC FOCUS): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2007; 370: 143-152. 3.    Hardcastle JD, Chamberlain JO, Robinson MH et al. Randomised controlled trial of faecal-occult-blood screening for colorectal cancer. Lancet 1996; 348: 1472-1477. 4.    Mandel JS, Bond JH, Church TR et al. Reducing mortality from colorectal cancer by screening for fecal occult blood. Minnesota Colon Cancer Control Study. N Engl J Med 1993; 328: 1365-1371. 5.    Stewart JH, Bertoni AG, Staten JL et al. Participation in surgical oncology clinical trials: gender-, race/ethnicity-, and age-based disparities. Ann Surg Oncol 2007; 14: 3328-3334. 6.    Kumar A, Soares HP, Balducci L, Djulbegovic B. Treatment tolerance and efficacy in geriatric oncology: a systematic review of phase III randomized trials conducted by five National Cancer Institute-sponsored cooperative groups. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25: 1272-1276. 7.    Surgery for colorectal cancer in elderly patients: a systematic review. Colorectal Cancer Collaborative Group. Lancet 2000; 356: 968-974.

Osteoporosis Screening and Assessment of Fracture Risk

Osteoporosis Screening and Assessment of Fracture Risk

Teaser: 


Mohammed O. Rahman, BHSc student, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON.
Aliya Khan, MD, FRCPC, FACP, FACE, Professor of Clinical Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Director, Calcium Disorders Clinic, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton; Director, Oakville Bone Center, Oakville, ON.

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease characterized by impaired bone strength and an increased risk of fragility fracture. Effective screening should be aimed at evaluating risk factors for osteoporosis with identification of individuals at risk, allowing for intervention prior to fragility fracture. This article presents an overview of the risk factors for fracture in men and women and the integration of these factors in various models, enabling an assessment of the 10-year fracture risk. Through effective screening, early identification, and early intervention with pharmacological therapy of osteoporosis, significant impact can be made on reducing fragility fracture incidence, thereby alleviating the economic and clinical costs to our health care system.
Key words: osteoporosis, screening, risk factors, diagnosis, FRAX.

Psychosocial Oncology for Older Adults in the Primary Care Physician’s Office

Psychosocial Oncology for Older Adults in the Primary Care Physician’s Office

Teaser: 

Bejoy C. Thomas, PhD, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Alberta Cancer Board; Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
Barry D. Bultz, PhD, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Alberta Cancer Board; Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.

Geriatric care is undoubtedly complex. A cancer diagnosis in itself creates significant concerns, irrespective of age, for the patient, and these concerns may be compounded by stresses related to moving into later life. Despite the scarce literature on geriatric oncology, the numerous challenges are acknowledged. Substantial evidence is offered on the benefits to the patient as well as the treating institution (cost off-sets, for example) on the benefits of psychosocial care. However, psychosocial care does not necessarily begin only at the cancer centre. Screening for the sixth vital sign, emotional distress, should begin at the primary care physician’s office. This not only benefits the primary care practice but also enables the tertiary referral centre to streamline resources to the specific needs of the patient, thereby ultimately improving the patient experience across the disease trajectory.
Key words: geriatric, chronic disease, emotional distress, screening, sixth vital sign.

Update on Prostate Cancer among Older Men

Update on Prostate Cancer among Older Men

Teaser: 

Michel Carmel, MD, FRCSC, Professor, Sherbrooke University; Chair, Division of Urology, CHUS, Sherbrooke, QC.

Prostate cancer is the highest in incidence in Canada, ahead of lung and colon cancers. This is largely due to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. Choosing among management options, including watchful waiting, active surveillance, and surgery, seems more difficult than ever for the patient and his physician as new treatments are emerging, often presented as accepted alternatives, while long-term efficacy and toxicity results are not yet available.
Key words: cancer, prostate, older adults, prostate-specific antigen, screening.

Screening for and Staging Chronic Kidney Disease

Screening for and Staging Chronic Kidney Disease

Teaser: 

Gemini Tanna, MD, FRCPC, Division of Nephrology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sarbjit Vanita Jassal, MB, BCh, MD, Division of Nephrology, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasingly common among older adults. In the older individual, the presence of CKD is predictive of cardiovascular death, increased all- cause mortality, and progression to end-stage renal disease and the need for dialysis. Early identification of these high-risk individuals may prevent or delay such adverse outcomes. The Canadian Society of Nephrology (CSN) released a position statement in September 2006 suggesting that screening be limited to those at high risk. We recommend that clinicians follow the CSN algorithm for screening for CKD among older adults.
Key words: chronic kidney disease, estimated glomerular filtration rate, older adults, renal function, screening.

Care of the Menopausal Woman: Beyond Symptom Relief

Care of the Menopausal Woman: Beyond Symptom Relief

Teaser: 

Lynne T. Shuster, MD, Women’s Health Clinic, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA.
Sharonne N. Hayes, MD, Women’s Heart Clinic, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA.
Mary L. Marnach, MD, Women’s Heart Clinic, Department of Gynecology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN, USA.
Virginia M. Miller, PhD, Departments of Surgery and Physiology and Biomedical Enginering and Office of Women’s Health, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester,MN,USA.

Women in the Western world may expect to spend a significant portion of their lives in postmenopause. After menopause, women are at increasing risk for several conditions associated with aging that may or may not be related to declining hormone levels. Caring for women seeking advice and treatment for menopausal concerns presents a golden opportunity to not only identify individuals at risk for early intervention but also to address prevention and screening strategies important to sustaining health.
Keywords: cancer, cardiovascular disease, menopause, osteoporosis, screening.

Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer and Aging

Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer and Aging

Teaser: 


Maida J. Sewitch, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, McGill University, and the Divisions of Gastroenterology and Clinical Epidemiology, The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC.
Caroline Fournier MSc, Research Associate, Division of Clinical Epidemiology, The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a commonly diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada and the industrialized world. According to cancer registries, incidence varies by age, geographical location, site, and time. CRC screening reduces both CRC incidence through removal of premalignant polyps and CRC deaths through early detection and treatment. Health Canada considers CRC an ideal target for mass screening of individuals 50 years of age and older. This article reviews the epidemiology of CRC and the reasoning behind the development of screening guidelines for persons 50 years of age and older. Various Canadian and U.S. guidelines are detailed. Routine screening of average-risk individuals is advocated. Finally, the review highlights trends in patient utilization of CRC screening as well as the role of screening in an aging population.
Keywords: aging, colorectal cancer, epidemiology, screening, adenomatous polyps.

Should Older People Be Regularly Screened for Vision and Hearing by Primary Health Care Providers?

Should Older People Be Regularly Screened for Vision and Hearing by Primary Health Care Providers?

Teaser: 

Jie Jin Wang, MMed, PhD, Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney, Australia.
Jennifer L. Smith, BA, PhD, Australian Health Policy Institute, University of Sydney, Australia.
Stephen R. Leeder, BSc (Med), MB, PhD, Australian Health Policy Institute, University of Sydney, and The Menzies Centre for Public Health Policy, Australia.

Vision and hearing impairments are common in older people. They not only impact on the quality of life and independent living of affected individuals, but also contribute to the overall burden of aged care. Although current evidence supports screening for age-related vision and/or hearing impairments, good- quality evidence on the effectiveness of sensory interventions (e.g., treatment for eye conditions or rehabilitation for hearing loss) is lacking. Evidence from community-based randomized controlled trials is needed before implementing community-wide screening. Case-finding during primary health care can be considered. Strategies to reduce the overall burden from common disabilities, including sensory impairments, among older people are keys to achieving the goal of “aging well, aging productively.”
Key words: aging, screening, vision, hearing, sensory impairment.