Our team has collaborated with Dana-Farber and Brigham & Women’s Division of Aging leadership to develop the Resilience and Equity in Aging, Cancer, and Health (REACH) program.

The goal of REACH is to promote physical resilience and cancer care equity for adults age 70 and older who are diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer.

How REACH can help

Specialized assessments. Traditional medical assessments typically do not include aspects of care and quality of life that are likely to be more relevant and important to older patients. A specialized assessment for older adults can show what risk factors could be addressed and improved.

Expert care. The REACH program includes a physician who is an expert in older patients’ medical issues, called a geriatrician, as part of the cancer care team.  This model is an innovative and proven way to improve outcomes for older patients, which include problems with treatment and complications from surgery and other factors associated with worse medical outcomes and decreased quality of life.

Learn more about joining REACH or contact us. Meet the REACH team.


A greater risk of hospital visits. Older adults can have greater challenges with cancer treatment and more interruptions to their care. They are more likely to experience emergency visits and unplanned hospitalizations.

Factors associated with emergency department (ED) and hospital visits are not routinely evaluated, even though over 50% of patients at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) who require an ED visit or hospitalization are older adults.

Lack of research on treatment options for older adults. Although older adults make up the majority of patients with cancer, they are underrepresented in research and clinical trials. Less than 20% of patients in clinical trials are more than 65 years old and less than 10% are 75 years or older.

With information and research lacking about older adults in cancer clinical trials, treatment options and decisions about cancer care are often limited to a physician’s own experience with older patients, which can be incomplete and inconsistent.

Also, many clinical trials focus on cancer-specific outcomes, such as stopping cancer progression and overall survival rates,  and may not include outcomes that are most meaningful to older patients. There is limited information about evaluating treatment options for older patients with gastrointestinal cancer beyond predicting outcomes of surgery.

(See what clinical trials are open to you at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. For any questions about these clinical trials, please contact 877-DF-TRIAL [877-338-7425].)


REACH gratefully acknowledges funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb that makes our research possible.