A recent study published by researchers at The University of North Carolina examined the utilization of occupational and physical therapy (OT/PT) services in older cancer patients. The records of 592 patients with cancer were examined. The average age was 71, and 63% of the patients had breast cancer. Most of the patients (64.5%) had at least one functional deficit and 41% had at least two functional deficits all potentially requiring OT/PT. These deficits were measured with standard scales and tests, and included reduced physical health, difficulties with activities of daily living and reduced social activities, reduced memory or concentration and/or a history of falls. Of cancer patients with functional deficits only 9% received OT/PT within 12 months of a noted deficit. The authors concluded that a minority of older cancer patients, even with defined functional deficits that could benefit from rehabilitation, were referred for OT/PT care. TurningPoint began to beat the drum for breast cancer patients to be routinely referred for rehabilitation care back in 2003. Strides have been made but much work remains.

Pergolotti M et al. The prevalence of potentially modifiable functional deficits and the subsequent use of occupational and physical therapy by older adults with cancer. J Geriatr Oncol. 2015 May;6 (3):194-201.