Polypharmacy in elderly cancer patients: Challenges and the way clinical pharmacists can contribute in resource‐limited settings

Sunil Shrestha, Sudip Shrestha, Saval Khanal

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to address the problems associated with polypharmacy in elderly cancer patients and to highlight the role of pharmacists in such cases in resource-limited settings. A narrative review of existing literature was performed to summarize the evidence regarding the impact of polypharmacy in elderly cancer patients and the pharmaceutical strategies to manage it. This review emphasizes the significance of polypharmacy, which is often ignored in real clinical practice. Polypharmacy in the elderly cancer population is mainly due to: chemotherapy with one or more neoplastic agents for cancer treatment, treatment for adverse drug reactions due to neoplastic agents, the patient's comorbid conditions, or drug interactions. The role of the clinical pharmacist in specialized oncology hospitals or oncology departments of tertiary care hospitals is well established; however, this is not the case in many developing countries. A clinical pharmacist can contribute to solving the problems associated with polypharmacy by identifying the risks associated with polypharmacy and its management in resource-limited settings. As in many developed countries, the involvement of a clinical pharmacist in cancer care for elderly patients may play a vital role in the recognition and management of polypharmacy-related problems. Further research can be conducted to support this role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-49
JournalAging Medicine
Volume2
Issue number1
Early online date14 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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