Older Cancer Patients

Older and Wiser Project: Development of a co-designed, online, supportive care resource for older adults affected by cancer.

Research Project

  • Year: 2018-2020
  • CI: Cancer Australia, Mei Krishnasamy, Chair in Cancer Nursing, Department of Nursing, University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research
  • Grant Scheme: Supporting people with Cancer, Cancer Australia


  • Cancer Australia
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre


One in three men and one in four women in Australia will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 75, rising to one in two for both males and females, by the age of 85 years. By 2054, the number of Australians aged over 65 years is projected to double compared with today, with approximately 2 million Australians projected to be aged 85 years and over. However less data is available to inform the risks and benefits of treatment for older adults compared to younger people, and tools available to assess risks and benefits fail to adequately identify factors that impact treatment efficacy and health outcomes for older people with cancer3. Older people are less likely to have opportunities to participate in cancer research, are less likely to receive active cancer treatments than younger counterparts; are less likely to be given information on the side effects of treatment and have access to a specialist cancer nurse. Older adults affected by cancer may lack of adequate information to know what functional, psycho-social or clinical co-morbidities they should report to their treating teams and to enable themselves to be active participants in treatment decisions. The project will deliver an Australian-first, co-designed resource that will deliver accessible information and tools to help older adults communicate important aspects of their health and wellbeing to members of the health care team, and promote health and wellbeing self-management capability through tailored evidence based resources.

In contemporary health care service provision smart phone based health care solutions are considered a significant new addition to the way patient involvement can be imagined and constructed within the overall service provision ecology. Also referred to as MHealth this form of health service provision has in recent years seen a huge expansion of solutions especially in the availability of third party apps for smart phones. The overall categorisation of the typology of these apps comprises three key stakeholder domains that of; the acute care facility (Hospital), the clinical and the patient (consumer). Or in short apps for hospitals, for doctors and for patients. Consumer health and fitness apps have seen a huge expansion on maintenance of fit and healthy people. Crucially apps targeted at patients, currently undergoing treatment or in post-operative recovery, are rare and often have a didactic clinical and medicalised approach. There thus exists a gap in the availability of “niche” apps focussed upon supporting and aiding patients on their journeys to recovery.

By rapidly developing freely downloadable and publicly available apps ( as probes) for use by clinicians, nurses, hospital administrators and researchers these two projects have demonstrated a methodology of: One, a multi stage linear program of innovation and design development; two, research from need identification, to rapid prototype to a setting up of a funded-research-program to gather evidence and improve the solution; three, to build into this continuum the eventual commercialisation of App solutions for worldwide adoption.