The care of older patients with cancer is becoming increasingly complex. Common challenges for this population include management of comorbidities, safe transitions of care, and appropriate medication use. In particular, polypharmacy-generally defined as the regular use of five or more medications-and inappropriate medication use can lead to adverse effects and poor outcomes in older adults with cancer, including falls, hospital readmissions, cognitive impairment, poor adherence to essential medications, chemotherapy toxicity, and increased mortality. Managing polypharmacy across different cancer care settings is often challenging. Providers face barriers to safe and successful medication management that may include lack of time, absence of reimbursement, underappreciation of the scale of polypharmacy-related harm, lack of ownership of deprescribing efforts, and poor communication across care settings. Existing literature on managing inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy in older adults with cancer has often focused on ideal state settings in which resources are plentiful and time is purposefully allocated for medication interventions. This paper presents a narrative, rather than a systematic review, of studies published in the past decade that provided detailed information on medication management and polypharmacy across cancer care settings. This review aims to also summarize different healthcare provider roles in taking action against inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy in older adults with cancer.
Recommended CitationWhitman, Andrew; Erdeljac, Paige; Jones, Caroline; Pillarella, Nicole; and Nightingale, Ginah PharmD, BCOP, "Managing Polypharmacy in Older Adults with Cancer Across Different Healthcare Settings." (2021). College of Pharmacy Faculty Papers. Paper 46.
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