Chemotherapy in the Elderly: Supportive Measures for Chemotherapy-Induced Myelotoxicity
Not only is the U.S. populace aging, but the incidence of cancer in the elderly also is increasing. Many elderly patients with cancer can obtain the same benefits from standard chemotherapy as younger patients can, but the elderly are more susceptible to the myelotoxicity of chemotherapy, which can limit the dose intensity of their treatments. Nurses can help identify patients at risk before they are treated with chemotherapy and discuss the need for hematopoietic support with other members of the treatment team. They also can provide ongoing patient and family education and teach patients to recognize and report early symptoms of potential problems. Appropriate supportive measures, such as granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor, reduce the risk of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia and related infections and make the use of full-dose chemotherapy possible in elderly patients despite their greater risk of myelosuppression.