Better Care for Elderly Patients With Cancer: Dr Arti Hurria's Dream, Realized
Photo of Dr Arti Hurria, used with permission. Photo credit: City of Hope.
A chemotherapy toxicity risk score for older patients with breast cancer predicted a patient's risk for drug toxicity better than the commonly used physician-rated Karnofsky performance status (KPS), according to a study presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), Texas.1
“It's just another tool in the toolbox that helps you converse with the patient and their family members together to make a decision,” G van Londen, MD, MS, medical oncologist and geriatrician at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told Cancer Therapy Advisor. Dr van Londen, who was not involved in the current study, noted that a benefit of the tool is that it uses information that is routinely collected.
The breast cancer–specific toxicity tool is a fine-tuned version of the Cancer and Aging Research Group (CARG) toxicity tool, which predicts chemotherapy toxicity in patients with solid tumors.2 The breast cancer–specific (CARG-BC) toxicity tool is also part of the legacy that the late geriatric oncologist Arti Hurria, MD, left behind.
“[Dr Hurria] really wanted to create helpful, concrete guidance [for geriatric oncology],” Dr van Londen said. “This tool is one of the things that is contributing to that goal.”
Cofounder of CARG, Dr Hurria led the study to develop and validate the CARG-BC tool. Incorporation of the tool to guide treatment decisions was the ultimate goal. But, Dr Hurria died unexpectedly in a traffic accident on November 7, 2018, before she was able to present data on CARG-BC at the 2018 SABCS meeting.
She was well known for her fervent commitment to improving the care of geriatric patients with cancer, who are often overlooked in research studies. “She was very kind and gentle and at the same time driven, but always thoughtful,” Dr van Londen recalled. “She was a very special personality.”