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Advocate Aurora Health recently joined a clinical trial evaluating the role of a presurgical screening and care model, or toolkit, in improving surgical care and outcomes in older patients with cancer.

The study, “Use of a pre-surgical toolkit in improving surgical care and outcomes in older participants with cancer,” will gauge how well the OPTI-Surg presurgical toolkit improves patient function eight weeks following a surgical operation. Advocate Aurora Research Institute opened the study at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

“As the number of older adults who undergo surgery continues to rise, clinicians are becoming more focused on how age-related frailty can put patients at increased risk of complications from surgery,” said surgical oncologist Aaron Chevinsky, MD, site principal investigator for the study. “But by screening for and attempting to address the vulnerabilities associated with frailty, we can potentially enhance recovery from surgery, reduce length of stay and decrease hospital costs.”

The OPTI-Surg toolkit involves screening elderly cancer patients for various types of vulnerabilities – such as those in cognition, nutrition, functional independence and social support – and then providing targeted resources, including printed reading materials, and possibly referrals to other care providers, such as social workers and dieticians.

Previous studies have shown that while interventions addressing frailties in a single domain can have mixed results, multimodal interventions that identify and address more than one type of frailty demonstrate greater potential for improved outcomes.

Study sites will randomize participants into one of three study arms: participants receive OPTI-Surg intervention with an implementation coach, participants receive OPTI-Surg intervention without an implementation coach and participants receive usual care.

“Surveys show oncologists are open to preoperative measures to improve care and outcomes for older patients, but real or perceived obstacles, such as a lack of time or specific direction, have slowed adoption of such measures,” said Nina Garlie, PhD, interim vice president for the Research Institute. “A presurgical toolkit that can be tailored to different clinical settings could be one way to help meet this need.”

The study is sponsored by Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a cooperative research group that designs and conducts clinical trials under the sponsorship of the National Cancer Institute.