Treating Cancer Patients Based On Overall Health, Not Age

Cancer researchers launch effort eliminate age limits for older, ‘healthier’ patients

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Fred Cubbison is examined by Dr. Ashley Rosko at Ohio State`s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, where a new clinic has opened that bases patient treatment options on their fitness level, not just their age.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – A new clinic is open that is changing the way cancer patients are evaluated for treatment, by placing less emphasis on their age and more on their fitness level. “For too long, there have been age limits to the types of therapies we offered to patients,” said Dr. Ashley Rosko, who helped create the clinic at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James). “But this clinic is dedicated to providing the most effective treatment to every patient by looking at their biological age instead of just their physical age.”

In the past, Rosko says most hospitals assumed older patients would likely be too frail to tolerate treatments like powerful chemotherapies or stem cell transplants, so they set age limits on who could get them. “But we know there are people in their 70’s and even their 80’s who tolerate those treatments very well. So, we need to make sure they get them,” Rosko said.

In one visit to the clinic, patients are seen by up to six specialists who evaluate everything from physical and mental health to a patient’s social support structure and even their nutrition. “We want a complete picture of these patients in all aspects of their health, so we can offer the best treatment plan possible,” said Rosko.

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Fred Cubbison is examined by Dr. Ashley Rosko at Ohio State`s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, where a new clinic has opened that bases patient treatment options on their fitness level, not just their age.

Fred Cubbison works on his restored 1965 Mustang at his home in New Concord, Ohio.

Fred Cubbison looks at his restored 1965 Mustang at his home in New Concord, Ohio. Because of his good health, Cubbison was given strong chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at age 70, treatments normally not offered to those over 65.

Dr. Ashley Rosko checks the heart of Fred Cubbison, 71, at Ohio State`s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Rosko helped to open one of the first clinics in the country in which cancer patients like Cubbison are given treatment options based their fitness level, not just their age.

At age 71, Fred Cubbison still chops wood and is extremely active on his farm in New Concord, Ohio. Because of his good health, Cubbison recently underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma, therapies normally reserved only for younger patients.

Alanna Dyko conducts research on a protein known as P16 as part of Dr. Christin Burd`s lab at Ohio State`s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Scientists believe P16 could be extracted from blood tests to help determine if older cancer patients are healthy enough for stronger, more aggressive therapies.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute

Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute