Cancer is increasingly a disease of older adults. The aging of the United States population, paired with improved cancer survival, means that a substantial number of older adults are or will be living with cancer in the future. As older patients are already experiencing declines in physical and mental health, cancer treatment and decision making can be complex and must weigh survival against treatment toxicity and reductions in quality of life. Despite the complexity of these patients, there has been minimal effort to develop guidelines for cancer treatment in older adults. Cancer diagnoses are highly stressful for both patients and their families, but they do not happen in a vacuum. Understanding cancer diagnoses in the context of aging is critically important in developing guidelines for best care practices for patients.
The mission of the Center for Cancer and Aging is to advance knowledge in the field of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, care, and management to improve the lives of older adults with cancer and their families. Key areas of interest include disparities in access to care, treatment decision making throughout the course of illness, cancer diagnosis and treatment in the context of dementia and other serious illnesses, quality of life outcomes, and healthcare utilization including palliative care.