• disability;
  • geriatric assessment;
  • prostate cancer;
  • vulnerable elders;
  • functional impairment



Impairments in geriatric domains adversely affect health outcomes of the elderly. The Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) is a key component of the treatment approach for older cancer patients, but it is time consuming. In this pilot study, the authors evaluated the validity of a brief, functionally based screening tool, the Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 (VES-13), for identifying older patients with prostate cancer (PCa) with impairment in the oncology clinic setting.


Patients with PCa aged ≥70 years who actively were receiving androgen ablation treatment and who were followed within the clinics at the University of Chicago were eligible. Patients self-completed the VES-13 and CGA instruments and repeated the VES-13 1 month later. Physical performance and cognitive assessments were administered by a research assistant.


Of 50 participating patients, 50% were identified as impaired by the VES-13 (score ≥3). Sixty percent of patients scored as impaired on ≥2 tests within the CGA, exhibiting deficits in multiple domains. The reliability of the VES-13 (Pearson correlation coefficient) was 0.92. The cut-off score of 3 on the VES-13 had 72.7% sensitivity and 85.7% specificity for CGA deficits and was highly predictive for identifying impairment (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.90). Patients who had mean VES-13 scores ≥3 performed significantly worse on evaluations of activities of daily living (P = .001), physical performance (P = .002), comorbidity (P = .004), and cognitive impairment (P = .003).


Functional and cognitive impairments are highly prevalent among older patients with PCa who receive androgen ablation in oncology clinics. The current results indicated that the brief VES-13 performed nearly as well as a conventional CGA in detecting geriatric impairment in this population. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.