Measuring Aging and Identifying Aging Phenotypes in Cancer Survivors

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the National Cancer Institute








Published by Oxford University Press 2019. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US. Observational data have shown that some cancer survivors develop chronic conditions like frailty, sarcopenia, cardiac dysfunction, and mild cognitive impairment earlier and/or at a greater burden than similarly aged individuals never diagnosed with cancer or exposed to systemic or targeted cancer therapies. In aggregate, cancer- and treatment-related physical, cognitive, and psychosocial late- and long-term morbidities experienced by cancer survivors are hypothesized to represent accelerated or accentuated aging trajectories. However, conceptual, measurement, and methodological challenges have constrained efforts to identify, predict, and mitigate aging-related consequences of cancer and cancer treatment. In July 2018, the National Cancer Institute convened basic, clinical, and translational science experts for a think tank titled "Measuring Aging and Identifying Aging Phenotypes in Cancer Survivors." Through the resulting deliberations, several research and resource needs were identified, including longitudinal studies to examine aging trajectories that include detailed data from before, during, and after cancer treatment; mechanistic studies to elucidate the pathways that lead to the emergence of aging phenotypes in cancer survivors; long-term clinical surveillance to monitor survivors for late-emerging effects; and tools to integrate multiple data sources to inform understanding of how cancer and its therapies contribute to the aging process. Addressing these needs will help expand the evidence base and inform strategies to optimize healthy aging of cancer survivors.

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