Background: While radiation therapy (RT) improves function, and quality of life for patients with advanced cancers, patients frequently experience a period of acute toxicity during which functional abilities may decline. Little is understood about changes in functional outcomes after RT in older adults. This study aims to examine changes in daily function at 1 and 6 months following RT. Methods: We reviewed the charts of 117 patients who underwent palliative RT on a prospective registry. Activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) scores ranging from 0 to 6 and 0–8, respectively, were collected at baseline, one-month, and six months post-RT. Patients were classified as low deficit for ADL/IADL if they had 0–1 deficits and high deficit if they had 2+ deficits. Results: One-hundred seventy RT courses were identified; 99 were evaluable at each time point. The median age was 67 years. At baseline, 29.5 and 29.9% of patients were classified as high-deficit for ADL and IADL functioning, respectively. At one-month, the majority of patients who were low-deficit at baseline remained so for both measures while approximately one quarter of high-deficit patients showed improvement. Most patients identified as low-deficit at one-month remained so at six-months, while no high-deficit patients improved from one- to six-months. Factors associated with high ADL and IADL deficits included: time (six months), increasing age, and Hispanic/other race. Compared to those with ECOG score of 3, patients with lower scores (0–2) had lower odds of high deficit. Conclusion: ADL and IADL tools may be useful in describing changes in daily function after palliative RT and in identifying groups of patients who may benefit from additional supportive geriatric care interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geriatric Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • ADL
  • IADL
  • Palliative RT
  • Radiation oncology


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