Utility of the Edmonton Frail Scale in identifying frail elderly patients during treatment of colorectal cancer

Meyers BM, Al-Shamsi HO, Rask S, Yelamanchili R, Phillips CM, Papaioannou A, Pond GR, Jeyabalan N, Zbuk KM, Dhesy-Thind SK.
J Gastrointest Oncol. 2017 Feb;8(1):32-38. doi: 10.21037/jgo.2016.11.12.


Background: Frailty has been proposed by geriatricians as an indicator of functional age. The Edmonton
Frail Scale (EFS) is a 15-point incremental scale; it is quick (<5 min), and simple to administer. We conducted an exploratory study to establish if the EFS add utility to clinician’s expertise by determining if there was an association between EFS and receipt of chemotherapy in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients.

Methods: The EFS was administered to stage II–IV CRC patients ≥70 years. EFS assessment was completed by one of the investigators, with the treating oncology team blinded to the results.

Results: A total of 46 patients were enrolled, and the EFS was reproduced in 32 patients at two visits (r=0.81; 95% CI: 0.64–0.90, P<0.0001). There was no correlation between the EFS and receipt of chemotherapy for the study population as a whole; however, exclusion of stage II patients showed a reduced likelihood of receiving chemotherapy with higher EFS scores (odds ratio 0.56; 95% CI: 0.37–0.85, P<0.01 per unitincrement). A similar effect was observed after multivariable analysis (adjusting for performance status, age, stage and gender, odds ratio 0.41 95% CI: 0.18–0.96, P<0.05 per unit increment).

Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that EFS can identify patients that oncologists may have thought were too frail for chemotherapy, independent of PS. Therefore, the EFS has the potential to add a reproducible, and quantifiable measure of frailty to the clinician’s decision making toolset. A follow up study will employ the EFS in real-time, and determine if using the EFS can minimize complications and unplanned health care utilization in elderly cancer patients.

Keywords: Elderly; frailty; geriatrics; colorectal cancer (CRC); chemotherapy

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