Older People denied proper access to cancer care

Older People denied proper access to cancer care

Older people are being denied proper access to cancer care, according to a study by leading Queen’s University academic, Professor Mark Lawler of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

Professor Mark LawlerProfessor Lawler said: “there is increasing evidence that elderly patients are being ‘under-treated’, leading to a ‘survival gap’ between older and younger patients.

Professor Lawler’s findings are published in an editorial in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) and entitled, ‘Ageism In Cancer Care: We Need to Change The Mindset’.

The paper sets its argument within the context of an ageing society – both locally and globally.

Estimates for the UK suggest that 76 per cent of cancers in men and 70 per cent of cancers in women will occur in the over-65 population by 2030.

It recommends that clinical trials should have no upper age limit.

A fundamental change in cancer policy for the elderly patient is needed.  Current practices are ageist and judgements made of the basis of age rather than capacity to respond.

Unless older cancer patients are treated equally there will be an increase in the number of  deaths as many cancers are a disease of old age.