Experts have predicted that in the next 20 years, the number of older cancer patients will increase. More exactly, Cancer Research UK found that by 2035, the number of old people diagnosed with cancer could rise each year by 80%.
In the UK, 130,000 people over 75 years old get cancer each year. By 2035, the cases could increase to 234,000, and this is due to the aging population.
The report also shows that the gap between the survival rates in the UK and the ones in the best-performing countries was higher in older patients.
According to the report, women aged 75 and older have low chances of survival in patients in the UK and Ireland. In bowel cancer patients, five-year survival rates were 15% lower in patients aged 75 and over, compared to patients in Canada that were diagnosed in the period of 2005 – 2007.
Out of all older cancer patients, between 2006 and 2015, 41% of them were aged 80-84 and were diagnosed in an emergency. This is why the survival rate was lower, as the cancer was harder to treat in its advanced state. Compared to them, only 14% of patients of 50-59 years old were diagnosed with cancer in an emergency.
Elderly People Must Get the Right Treatment
Cancer Research UK’s policy manager, Rose Gray:
“If we do nothing, the disparity in care between older and younger cancer patients will only grow. It’s vital to address this if we want to realise our ambition of ensuring world-class treatment for everyone in the UK who is affected by cancer.”
Martin Ledwick is the Cancer Research UK’s head information nurse, explaining that old people are more difficult to treat, as they have more health problems and need more medications for different issues:
“When elderly people have a lot of health problems and are taking a range of different medications it can affect what treatment they are able to receive.”
Ledwick added that some people with cancer might be too old “to have surgery and go through lengthy periods of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.” Ledwick concludes that the staff must be well trained and have enough resources to “can assess older people properly and ensure they receive the right treatment, care and support specific to their individual needs.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.