Student Projects

Title: The Underrepresentation of Older Adults in Randomized Clinical Trials for JAK Inhibitors to Treat Atopic Dermatitis: Barriers and Recommendations

Shreya Sreekantaswamy, BS,1 Linda Edelman, PhD2

1 University of Utah School of Medicine
2 University of Utah College of Nursing

Atopic dermatitis (AD), or eczema, is classically thought of as a disease of childhood. Recent research, however, has revealed that the prevalence of AD can reach as high as 8.7% among adults over the age of 65. Yet, older adults have been found to be severely underrepresented in clinical trials for current standard AD treatments (eg. methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil). As dermatology is turning to JAK inhibitors (JAKi) to expand the therapeutic horizon for AD, it is therefore important that older adults are adequately represented in JAKi AD clinical trials, for if not, they will be treated with medications whose efficacy and safety profile have not been explicitly evaluated in their age group. For this study, we reviewed to assess the age range and inclusion and exclusion criteria for Phase II and Phase III clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of JAKi (abrocitinib, baricitinib, upadacitinib, ruxolitinib, and delgocitinib) to treat atopic dermatitis. Of the 35 Phase II and Phase III AD clinical trials for these JAKi, only 14 adult trials have published data. Of these 14 trials, only five report the proportion of older adults in their participant cohort, which ranged from 2.13% - 7.95%, despite none of these trials having an upper age limit. Most trials (62.5%) had vague exclusionary criteria which stated that certain unspecified laboratory abnormalities or medical conditions could exclude participants at the discretion of the investigator, a statement which likely disproportionately excluded older adults. Underrepresentation of older adults in these trials might also be attributable to difficulty in recruiting and retaining geriatric patients in clinical research. Potential methods to increase the recruitment of older adults for studies are provided, such as assisting with transportation, or utilizing services like ResearchMatch to specifically target the older participant demographic. Ultimately, further efforts are needed to actively include and study older adults in clinical trials for JAKi so that dermatologists can make evidence-based therapeutic selections when treating older patients with atopic dermatitis.   

JAKi OA Exclusion 10.5 smallerr

Title: The Importance of a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in Older Adults with Cancer

Author: Alec Hansen

Introduction: There are more adults ages 65 and older today in the United States than at any other time in history. This number is expected to grow from 49 million to approximately 72 million by 2030. [1,2] Cancer is common in the geriatric population, with more than 50% of all cancers and more than 70% of cancer-related deaths in the United States occurring in patients ages 65 years and older. [2] It is important to consider more than just a patients chronological age while determining treatment options for older adults with cancer. [3]

Prevalence: According to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, the median age of a cancer diagnosis is 66 years. [4] The life expectancy in the United States for Females is 81.2 years, and for Males is 76.2 years, suggesting that half of all lifetime cancer diagnoses occur in the last 10-15 years of an individual’s life. [5] Cancer is the leading cause of death in men and women aged 60 to 79 years. [6]

Treatment: The Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) is a multidisciplinary, in-depth evaluation that assesses the objective health and well-being of older adults while evaluating multiple domains which may affect cancer prognosis, treatment choices, and tolerance. [7] The CGA can reveal geriatric issues that are not detected by routine oncology care. Areas of evaluation include function, mobility, polypharmacy, comorbidities, social support, cognition, psychologic problems, and nutrition. [7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16]

Community Resources: The Geriatric Oncology Assessment and Plan (GOAL) clinic through the Huntsman Cancer Institute is a referral based, supportive service lead by an Oncology and Geriatric trained Nurse Practitioner. Focused on evaluating comprehensive geriatric needs and collaborating with the geriatric and oncology teams. Performs comprehensive geriatric assessments, assists with symptom management, provides palliative care, helps connect patients to community resources, and participates in frequent and thorough goals of care conversations.

Conclusions: The prevalence of cancer in older adults will continue to increase as the population ages. Treating cancer effectively in older adults requires a comprehensive geriatric assessment. Resources such as the GOAL clinic through Huntsman Cancer Institute can help ensure that the geriatric oncology population is properly cared for. 

CGA in Elderly Patients with Cancer Poster 1

[2] Smith BD, Smith GL, Hurria A, Hortobagyi GN, Buchholz TA. Future of cancer incidence in the United States: burdens upon an aging, changing nation. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27(17):2758-2765. doi:10.1200/JCO.2008.20.8983
[3] Mohile SG, Dale W, Somerfield MR, et al. Practical Assessment and Management of Vulnerabilities in Older Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: ASCO Guideline for Geriatric Oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2018;36(22):2326-2347. doi:10.1200/JCO.2018.78.8687
[6] Siegel RL, Miller KD, Fuchs HE, Jemal A. Cancer Statistics, 2021 [published correction appears in CA Cancer J Clin. 2021 Jul;71(4):359]. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021;71(1):7-33. doi:10.3322/caac.21654
[8] Pal SK, Katheria V, Hurria A. Evaluating the older patient with cancer: understanding frailty and the geriatric assessment. CA Cancer J Clin. 2010;60(2):120-132. doi:10.3322/caac.20059
[9] Katz, Sidney, et al. "Studies of illness in the aged: the index of ADL: a standardized measure of biological and psychosocial function." jama 185.12 (1963): 914-919.
[10] Pal SK, Hurria A. Impact of age, sex, and comorbidity on cancer therapy and disease progression. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(26):4086-4093. doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.27.0579
[11] Tomaka J, Thompson S, Palacios R. The relation of social isolation, loneliness, and social support to disease outcomes among the elderly. J Aging Health. 2006;18(3):359-384. doi:10.1177/0898264305280993
[12] Chew ML, Mulsant BH, Pollock BG, et al. Anticholinergic activity of 107 medications commonly used by older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008;56(7):1333-1341. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01737.x
[13] Vega JN, Dumas J, Newhouse PA. Cognitive Effects of Chemotherapy and Cancer-Related Treatments in Older Adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017;25(12):1415-1426. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2017.04.001
[14] Canoui-Poitrine F, Reinald N, Laurent M, et al. Geriatric assessment findings independently associated with clinical depression in 1092 older patients with cancer: the ELCAPA Cohort Study. Psychooncology. 2016;25(1):104-111. doi:10.1002/pon.3886
[15] Hurria A, Li D, Hansen K, et al. Distress in older patients with cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27(26):4346-4351. doi:10.1200/JCO.2008.19.9463
[16] Pressoir M, Desné S, Berchery D, et al. Prevalence, risk factors and clinical implications of malnutrition in French Comprehensive Cancer Centres. Br J Cancer. 2010;102(6):966-971. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605578

Projects from 2020:

Unique Needs of the LGBTQ+ Population of Older Adults presented by Sky Dean, Fourth Year Medical Student at the University of Utah School of Medicine

3/31/20- "Art with Elders as viewed through the experience of older adult artists" - MS Gerontology Project presented by Lauren Chamberlain, past Graduate Assistant of the UGEC