Putting the Puzzle Together: UW Cancer Center Fall Symposium

Mom and DaughterMadison, Wisconsin - On Friday, October 19 nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals, and geriatric specialists of all kinds will gather at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton for the UW Carbone Cancer Center's 11th Annual Fall Symposium.

Focusing on cancer in an increasingly aging U.S. and local population, the conference will address topics ranging from personal cancer care for older patients to enabling seniors to more easily return home after hospitalization.

Emceeing the event is UW Carbone Cancer Center medical oncologist Noelle LoConte, MD, who also coordinated the conference agenda.

"Cancer is a disease of the aging," explains LoConte, who also holds a faculty appointment in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "The so-called 'graying' of the baby boomer generation will bring a new set of challenges and a lot more patients through our doors in the next few decades," she adds.

One of a small handful of physicians in the Midwest who have completed fellowships in both oncology and geriatrics, LoConte acknowledges a clear relationship between the disciplines.

"Older patients have unique sets of needs," she notes. "In order to provide quality care, we have to be aware of these needs."

One workshop will focus on treating rural older adults who may have issues with transportation and home care.

"Some of this population might also be caring for a family member or may not have anyone nearby to help," says LoConte. "Rural clinicians may have to address these challenges more often."

Factors such as drug side effects and the rate of cancer development can also impact treatment options for seniors. Another session will look at the way seniors choose care based on these variables.

"Since some cancers, such as prostate cancer, move slower," explains LoConte, "we alter detection and treatment methods as patients get older."
The interactive discussions also aim to demonstrate the institutional factors that go into treating the ever-growing population of aging Americans.

"There are a lot of challenges built into the system," says LoConte. "Many older adults fall into a gray area between needing constant care in a facility and living on their own. Effectively transitioning these vulnerable adults into and out of our care will reduce the chances that these people will have to return for the same reason."

The common thread in the day's activities, which are geared towards healthcare professionals in the fields of both oncology and geriatrics, is the hands-on approach.

"Given the demographics of the U.S. population as a whole, we're all going to be geriatric oncologists," says LoConte of the doctors in her field. "Given that information, we're obligated to learn how to take better care of these patients."

Date Published: 08/27/2012

News tag(s):  cancer

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