Cancer in Older Adults

At the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, our goal is to have you live your best life while living longer.

Connect with a Nurse Navigator

Call 855.255.6181 or request a callback for support, advice, or a second opinion.

Meet Our Team


Our Approach

We’ve created the Comprehensive Oncology and Aging Care Team (COACH) specifically for older patients, with services tailored to your individual needs as you battle cancer.

COACH combines various services across our extensive care network. Our providers work together – along with primary oncologists, patients and families – to ensure that care is seamless and comprehensive.

The COACH team, collaborates closely with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance Cancer & Aging Interdisciplinary team (CAIT) on research and educational projects to improve the care of older cancer patients.

Our commitment to this individualized system of care earned special recognition with the Age-Friendly Health System-Committed to Care Excellence Award from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This distinction recognizes our alignment with evidence-based best practices and focus on what matters most to older adults and their family caregivers.


Meeting the unique needs of older patients

COACH is led by Dr. Rawad Elias, a geriatric oncologist. Dedicated to pinpointing and meeting the unique needs of older patients with cancer, he hosts information sessions for people who need age-specific services.


How We Do Assessments

Although most patients with cancer are older, guidelines followed by many oncologists are largely based on research done with younger people. This can easily lead to older patients not receiving proper care.

The COACH team begins with a comprehensive assessment of older patients to help their primary oncologist determine a treatment plan. We evaluate a patient's overall health, lifestyle and other key factors to estimate potential risks related to treatment and suggest interventions that will improve outcomes. We screen for problems that can derail effective cancer treatment, including issues with social support, mobility, balance, cognition and mood disorders.


Your COACH Team

At the Cancer Institute, you have access to our specialized team of healthcare professionals who guide you through all aspects of your treatment, providing the highest level of integrated care.

Team members include:

  • Physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners who collectively determine your needs.
  • Geriatricians, who help you maintain your quality of life as you go through cancer treatments.
  • Registered Dietitians, who help you maintain your strength throughout treatment.
  • Physical and occupational therapists, who can help preserve your independence, movement and function throughout treatments
  • Pharmacists, who safely manage your medications.
  • Social workers and counselors, who offer psychosocial counseling and support focused on improving your quality of life.
  • Palliative and integrative care therapists, who can provide relief from pain, nausea and emotional anxiety.
  • Community resources coordinators, who connect you to additional support in your area.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance


Geriatric Cancer News

September 23, 2019

Living With a Cancer Diagnosis as an Older Adult

According to the National Cancer Institute, age is the greatest risk factor for developing cancer. In fact, 60 percent  of [...]

Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.


Meet our Geriatric Cancer Care Specialists:

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Name Specialties Location
Cannan, Catherine Joanna, APRN, NP-C
4.9 /5
93 surveys
860.224.4408
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Plainville
  • New Britain
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Elias, Rawad, MD
4.9 /5
107 surveys
860.249.6291
  • Medical Oncology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
Show Less
  • Hartford
  • Hartford
  • Willimantic
Show Less
O'Neill, Melissa Ann, APRN 860.249.6291
  • Hematology / Oncology
  • Hartford
  • Avon
  • Willimantic
Show Less

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Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute