Image of depressed or anxious older adult with head in hands

A large proportion of older adults with cancer experience moderate to severe pain that raises their risk for functional impairment, according to a new study. The results underscore the crucial role of detecting and treating pain in these patients, investigators say.

The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, analyzed health data from adults aged 60 years and older enrolled in the Cancer & Aging Resilience Evaluation (CARE) Registry at the University of Alabama. Most had been diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer. 

Nearly half (43%) of the study participants self-reported pain of moderate or greater severity. These participants also were more likely to report limitations in instrumental activities of daily living, the researchers found. Those who reported pain also had greater odds of experiencing falls, and of cognitive complaints, anxiety and depression, the researchers discovered.

Functional independence is known to be a high priority for older adults, and the results “highlight the potential importance of screening for and managing pain in older patients with cancer,” the researchers concluded.

The study was published on the preprint site Research Square.

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