One-Quarter of Older Advanced Cancer Patients Taking 8 or More Drugs

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Polypharmacy tied to increased risk for adverse treatment outcomes, such as toxicity and early treatment discontinuation.

HealthDay News — Among older adults with advanced cancer, polypharmacy and potential drug-drug interactions are associated with an increased risk for adverse treatment outcomes, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of Cancer.

Mostafa R. Mohamed, MBBCh, from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues evaluated the association of medication measures with adverse outcomes in older adults with advanced cancer who were receiving systemic therapy. The analysis included 718 patients from the GAP 70+ Trial (aged 70 years and older) with advanced cancer who planned to start a new treatment regimen.

The researchers found that the median number of medications was 5 (range, 0 to 24 medications). More than one-quarter of patients (28%) received 8 or more medications, 67% received one or more potentially inappropriate medications, and 25% had one or more major potential drug-drug interactions. In patients with polypharmacy, the mean number of grade 2 or greater toxicities was 9.8 vs 7.7 in those without polypharmacy (adjusted β = 1.87), while the mean number of grade 3 or greater toxicities was 2.9 vs 2.2 in patients without polypharmacy (adjusted β = 0.59). Odds of early treatment discontinuation were higher among patients with one or more major potential drug-drug interaction (odds ratio, 1.59).

“Providing meaningful screening and interventional tools to optimize medication use may improve treatment-related outcomes in these patients,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text