Due partly to therapeutic improvements and prolonged patient survival, the field of neurooncology is gradually undergoing a philosophical shift, progressively moving toward a more functional approach to patient welfare. This shift includes, as one of its defining objectives, the promotion of elevated levels of quality of life (QOL) and quality of health (QOH) for patients of all ages. Unfortunately, an adult life-stage perspective has never been used to study the long-lasting impact of age on well-being in neurooncology patients.
In this study, the authors assessed and compared the QOL and QOH scores of 42 younger adults (≤ 40 years of age) and 88 older adults (> 40 years of age) presenting with a primary supratentorial tumor.
After having controlled for biomedical and treatment-related factors, the authors discovered that older adults reported lower functional well-being and poorer neurocognitive functioning than younger adults. This age difference appeared earlier than expected (developing as early as middle age), suggesting an accelerated effect of disease on the aging process. Importantly, it was also found that the variables that predict QOL and QOH differed depending on patient age. For example, support from friends was a significant predictor of QOL for younger adults, whereas the capacity to continue enjoying life was a significant predictor for older adults. Moreover, the presence of a high-grade tumor and increased physical pain had a negative impact on the QOH of younger adults, whereas increased difficulty with concentration negatively impacted the QOH of older adults.
These age differences clearly warn against consolidating the QOL or QOH scores of younger and older adults, and instead suggest that age at diagnosis is essential when considering patient perspective, and when establishing tailored support programs.