The following article features coverage from the 2017 ONA Navigation Summit in Austin, Texas. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage. 

National Cancer Institute data indicate that several demographic factors converged which has led us to a coming onslaught of geriatric patients with cancer, often called the “silver tsunami.” First the United States population will face a major increase in the number of older cancer survivors over the next 25 years, particularly those who are 85 years of age and older. By 2040, estimates indicate that the number of cancer survivors will rise from 15.5 million in 2016 to 26.1 million.  Second, the proportion of cancer survivors who are 65 years of age and older will increase from 61% to 73%.

Older cancer survivors typically have higher severity of disease and greater severity of cancer treatment. In addition, the unique physiological effects of aging such as pre-existing conditions and severe comorbidity including hypertension, arthritis, atrial fibrillation, and, for many, frailty and decreased cognitive function.

Older cancer survivors account for the higher percentage of emergency room visits and subsequent hospitalizations. Escalating cancer costs are expected to reach $173 billion annually by 2020.

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The Patient Care Connect Program (PCCP) is a patient-centered delivery model with the aim to ensure timely access to cancer care services, improve patient satisfaction with cancer care, and reduce costs. The PCCP was customized to adults 65 years of age and older and was delivered at 12 cancer centers in 5 states in the Southern United States. There were 12 nurse site managers and about 40 lay navigators involved with this program.

The PCCP is unique in several ways: it focuses on geriatric cancer across the cancer trajectory of treatment, cancer survivorship, and end of life/palliative care. The emphasis of the program was on referral communication with providers and patients with high acuity cancers.

The PCCP was grounded in the framework of personal empowerment (rather than disempowerment) and health promotion (rather than disease), concepts of proactive participation and problem solving. More than 10,000 geriatric cancer patients participated in the PCCP from 2013 to 2016.

Read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 ONA Navigation Summit by visiting the conference page.