Special Issue

The current status of geriatric oncology in India

31 Aug 2023
Vanita Noronha, Abhijith Rajaram Rao, Anant Ramaswamy, Anita Kumar, Anupa Pillai, Ratan Dhekale, Jyoti Krishnamurthy, Akhil Kapoor, Shreya Gattani, Arshiya Sehgal, Sharath Kumar, Renita Castelino, Sarika Mahajan, Anuradha Daptardar, Lekhika Sonkusare, Jayita Deodhar, Nabila Ansari, Manjusha Vagal, Purabi Mahajan, Shivshankar Timmanpyati, Manjunath Nookala, Ankita Chitre, Prem Naganath Narasimhan, Joyita Banerjee, Vikram Gota, Shripad Banavali, Rajendra A Badwe, Kumar Prabhash

Geriatric oncology in India is relatively new. The number of older persons with cancer is increasing exponentially; at our institution, 34% of patients registered are 60 years and over. Apart from the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, there are currently no other Indian centers that have a dedicated geriatric oncology unit. Geriatric assessments (GAs) are done sporadically, and older patients with cancer are usually assessed and treated based on clinical judgement. Challenges to increasing the uptake of GA include a lack of training/time/interest or knowledge of the importance of the GA. Other challenges include a lack of trained personnel with expertise in geriatric oncology, and a paucity of research studies that seek to advance the outcomes in older Indian patients with cancer. We anticipate that over the next 10 years, along with the inevitable increase in the number of older persons with cancer in India, there will be a commensurate increase in the number of skilled personnel to care for them. Key goals for the future include increased research output, increased number of dedicated geriatric oncology units across the country, India-specific geriatric oncology guidelines, geriatric oncology training programs, and a focus on collaborative work across India and with global partners. In this narrative review, we provide a broad overview of the status of geriatric oncology in India, along with a description of the work done at our center. We hope to spark interest and provide inspiration to readers to consider developing geriatric oncology services in other settings.

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