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Open Access Complex multimorbidity and health outcomes in older adult cancer survivorsa

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.

Objective: To characterize complex multimorbidity among cancer survivors and evaluate the association between cancer survivorship, time since cancer diagnosis, and self-reported fair/poor health, self-rated worse health in 2 years, and 2-year mortality.

Methods: We used the 2010‐2012 Health and Retirement Study. Cancer survivors were individuals who reported a (nonskin) cancer diagnosis 2 years or more before the interview. We defined complex multimorbidity as the co-occurrence of chronic conditions, functional limitations, and/or geriatric syndromes. In addition to descriptive analyses, we used logistic regression to evaluate the independent association between cancer survivor status and health outcomes. We also examined whether cancer survivorship differed by the number of years since diagnosis.

Results: Among 15,808 older adults (age ≥50 years), 11.8% were cancer survivors. Compared with cancer-free individuals, a greater percentage of cancer survivors had complex multimorbidity: co-occurring chronic conditions, functional limitations, and geriatric syndromes. Cancer survivorship was significantly associated with self-reported fair/poor health, self-rated worse health in 2 years, and 2-year mortality. These effects declined with the number of years since diagnosis for fair/poor health and mortality but not for self-rated worse health.

Conclusion: Cancer survivor status is independently associated with more complex multimorbidity, and with worse health outcomes. These effects attenuate with time, except for patient perception of being in worse health.
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Keywords: Comorbidity; functional limitations; geriatric syndromes; health decline; health status; mortality; cancer survivorship; multimorbidity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript http://www.compuscript.com on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press http://www.chinagp.net.

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