A New Battlefront: Symposium at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center to Tackle Geriatric Oncology


Approaches to treating elderly cancer patients are evolving as more of the population ages and the need for specialized care becomes more evident.

To address these issues and others, national thought leaders in geriatric oncology will gather at a unique symposium at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson (KCC) in Philadelphia on Friday, March 9, 2012, where they will present an overview of the latest advances in the understanding and treatment of cancer in older adults in an effort to impact patient care.

Outside of the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, this is the first regional symposium of its kind that would be addressing the needs of senior adults.

The all-day symposium, “The New Battlefront: Geriatric Oncology,” part of an annual series at the KCC, will be held at the Bluemle Life Sciences Building on Jefferson’s campus. Co-hosted by the KCC Cancer Network and Rothman Institute at Jefferson, it will provide comprehensive updates on basic science research and the latest updates on chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation in the care of senior adult patients.

Personalized Treatment

Geriatric patients make up 60 percent of new cancer diagnoses and 70 percent of all cancer deaths. And those numbers are expected to increase as the geriatric population doubles in size by 2030.

These patients also often must battle cancer in the context of multiple chronic conditions, decreased organ reserve, and all too often cognitive impairments.  What’s more, there’s currently a shortage of geriatric oncology physicians to treat them.

“Recognizing and addressing the particular co-morbidities, functional, and cognitive concerns, and identifying collaborations with other disciplines will help us better serve the population,” said Andrew E. Chapman, DO, FACP, who directs the KCC’s Senior Adult Oncology Center along with Christine A. Arenson, M.D, of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

A joint effort between the Departments of Medical Oncology and Family and Community Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, KCC’s Senior Adult Oncology Center provides a comprehensive assessment, usually during a single visit, to identify problems related to aging and cancer.   The program has medical oncologists, a geriatrician, a nurse navigator, a pharmacist specially trained in oncology and geriatrics, a registered dietician, and a social worker.

Facing this New Battlefront Together

During the symposium, the full spectrum of geriatric oncology care and research will be discussed by clinicians and researchers from top institutions, including Jan van Duersen, Ph.D., of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Arati V. Rao, M.D. of Duke University’s Division of Geriatrics.

The conference will provide an overview of the biology of cancer in aging, describe the state-of-the-art model of Shared Care for older cancer patients, and review critical issues of chemotherapy toxicity and optimal chemotherapy management.

Specific concerns for radiation therapy and surgery in the geriatric oncology patient will be also addressed. Finally, the latest advances in the management of hematologic and solid malignancies in the elderly will be shared.

Several of the talks also directly address patient and medication safety and improving communication among physicians, patients and other health care personnel.

Discussions will also focus on safe and effective use of chemotherapy and pharmacology safety issues, with talks by Arti Hurria M.D., director of the Cancer and Aging Research Program at the City of Hope National Medical Center and Stuart M. Lichtman, M.D., Professor of Medicine, 65+ Geriatric Clinical Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

John A. Abraham, M.D., Chairman of the Division of Orthopedic Oncology at the Rothman Institute at Jefferson, will also speak about managing orthopedic issues in geriatric oncology patients.

“This symposium is an opportunity for players in the geriatric medicine and oncology, surgery and radiation fields to come together and highlight the innovative discoveries and best practices we believe will be important for the next generation of treatment and therapeutics in patients,” said Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the KCC and Professor and Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

Other speakers include Rani P. Anné, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, Clinical Program Director at Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at University of Chicago Medical Center; Elizabeth M. Gore, M.D., Associate Director, Radiation Oncology at Medical College of Wisconsin; Supriya Gupta Mohile, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology, University of Rochester Medical Center; Richard C. Wender; Alumni Professor and Chair, Family and Community Medicine, Jefferson Medical College; and Michael Zenilman, M.D., Professor of Surgery, Vice Chair and Director, National Capital Region, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

To register for the event, please visit http://www.kimmelcancercenter.org/symposium/