Impact of Disasters on Older Adult Cancer Outcomes: A Scoping Review

Kathleen A. Lynch, Alexis A. Merdjanoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE There is an urgent need to address the growing global cancer burden in the context of complex disaster events, which both disrupt access to oncology care and facilitate carcinogenic exposures. Older adults (65 years and older) are a growing population with multifaceted care needs, making them especially vulnerable to disasters. The objective of this scoping review is to characterize the state of the literature concerning older adult cancer-related outcomes and oncologic care after a disaster event. METHODS A search was conducted in PubMed and Web of Science. Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for scoping reviews, articles were extracted and screened for inclusion. Eligible articles were summarized using descriptive and thematic analyses. RESULTS Thirty-five studies met all criteria for full-text review. The majority focused on technological disasters (60%, n = 21), followed by climate-amplified disasters (28.6%, n = 10) and geophysical disasters (11.4%, n = 4). Thematic analysis classified the current evidence into three major categories: (1) studies concerned with carcinogenic exposure and cancer incidence related to the disaster event, (2) studies examining changes in access to cancer care and cancer treatment disruptions as a result of the disaster event, and (3) studies exploring the psychosocial experiences of patients with cancer affected by a disaster event. Few studies focused on older adults specifically, and most of the current evidence focuses on disasters in the United States or Japan. CONCLUSION Older adult cancer outcomes after a disaster event are understudied. Current evidence suggests that disasters worsen cancer-related outcomes among older adults by disrupting continuity of care and access to timely treatment. There is a need for prospective longitudinal studies following older adult populations postdisaster and studies focused on disasters in low- and middle-income country contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJCO Global Oncology
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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