A pharmacist-led comprehensive medication assessment shows that a high number of older oncology patients use multiple and/or inappropriate medications. The findings were published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ginah Nightingale, Pharm.D., from the Jefferson School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia, and colleagues retrospectively examined medication use in 234 ambulatory senior adults with cancer (mean age, 79.9 years; 64 percent female; 74 percent white; 87 percent had solid tumors).

The authors sought to determine the prevalence of polypharmacy (PP), potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use, and associated factors.

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Concurrent use five to 10 medications defined PP, with more than 10 medications classified as excessive polypharmacy (EPP).

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The researchers found that the mean number of medications used was 9.23. The prevalence of PP, EPP, and PIM use was 41 percent (96 patients), 43 percent (101 patients), and 51 percent (119 patients), respectively.

A pharmacist-led comprehensive medication assessment classified 173 occurrences of PIMs. PIM was associated with PP (P < 0.001) and increased comorbidities (P = 0.005).

“Medication assessments that integrate both 2012 Beers Criteria and Screening Tool of Older Person’s Prescriptions criteria and consider cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and cancer-related therapy are needed to optimize medication use in this population,” the authors write.


  1. Nightingale, Ginah, et al. “Evaluation of a Pharmacist-Led Medication Assessment Used to Identify Prevalence of and Associations With Polypharmacy and Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use Among Ambulatory Senior Adults With Cancer.” Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.58.7550. [epub ahead of print]. March 23, 2015.