Falls in older adults with cancer: an updated systematic review of prevalence, injurious falls, and impact on cancer treatment

S. Sattar, K. Haase, S. Kuster, M. Puts, S. Spoelstra, C. Bradley, T. M. Wildes, S. Alibhai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: This update of our 2016 systematic review answers the following questions: (1) How often do older adults with cancer fall? (2) What are the predictors for falls? (3) What are the rates and predictors of injurious falls? (4) What are the circumstances and outcomes of falls? (5) How do falls in older patients affect subsequent cancer treatment? and a new research question, (6) Which fall reduction interventions are efficacious in this population? Methods: MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, and Embase were searched (September 2015–January 25, 2019). Eligible studies included clinical trials and cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies published in English in which the sample (or subgroup) included adults aged ≥ 60, with cancer, in whom falls were examined as an outcome. Results: A total of 2521 titles were reviewed, 67 full-text articles were screened for eligibility, and 30 new studies were identified. The majority involved the outpatient setting (n = 19) utilizing cross-sectional method (n = 18). Sample size ranged from 21 to 17,958. Fall rates ranged from 1.52 to 3.41% per 1000 patient days (inpatient setting) and from 39%/24 months to 64%/12 months (outpatient setting). One out of the 6 research questions contributed to a new finding: one study reported that 1 in 20 older patients experienced impact on cancer treatment due to falls. No consistent predictors for falls/fall injuries and no studies on fall reduction interventions in the geriatric oncology setting were identified. Conclusion: This updated review highlights a new gap in knowledge pertaining to interventions to prevent falls. Additionally, new knowledge also emerged in terms of impact of falls on cancer treatment; however, further research may increase generalizability. Falls and fall-related injuries are common in older adults with cancer and may affect subsequent cancer treatment. Further studies on predictors of falls, subsequent impacts, and fall reduction in the oncology setting are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cancer treatment
  • Falls
  • Geriatric oncology
  • Systematic review


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