The illness trajectory of elderly cancer patients across cultures: SIOG position paper

A. Surbone, M. Kagawa-Singer, C. Terret, L. Baider, O. Brawley, M. Mori, B. Stein, M. Zerue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Background: Due to the aging of the population, cancer has become a health priority worldwide. While the number of elderly cancer patients is rapidly increasing, many barriers still exist to their effective management. Compared with their younger counterparts, the elderly are less likely to receive optimal medical, psychological and spiritual treatment provided in a culturally competent manner. Design: The scantyliterature on cultural competence in elderly cancer patients has been reviewed. Additional material has been selected based on the authors' clinical research in medical oncology and psycho-oncology, and on their scholarly work in anthropology and bioethics. Results: The aging process is a synergistic product of biological, behavioral and social issues within a cultural context. Knowledge about how older people understand, perceive and experience their illness trajectory and make choices is essential to the planning and delivering of effective cancer care. Conclusion: This position paper of the SIOG Task Force on Cultural Competence in the Elderly creates awareness of the influence of culture in geriatric oncology. Negotiating cross-cultural issues in geriatric oncology helps managing possible conflicts between patients, families and physicians over differing health care values, beliefs, or practices. Possible areas of future scholarly investigation and clinical research are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-638
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural competence
  • Geriatric oncology
  • Psycho-oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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