Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Older people denied proper access to cancer care, according to study

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
Queen's University Belfast
Summary:
Older people are being denied proper access to cancer care, according to a study. The British lead author of a newly published editorial said: "There is increasing evidence that elderly patients are being 'undertreated,' leading to a 'survival gap' between older and younger patients. We need a fundamental change in cancer policy for the elderly patient. Our current practices are essentially ageist."

Older people globally are being denied proper access to cancer care, according to an editorial by Queen's University academic, Professor Mark Lawler of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.

In an editorial in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) Professor Lawler said: "there is increasing evidence from around the world that elderly patients are being 'undertreated', leading to a 'survival gap' between older and younger patients.

"We need a fundamental change in cancer policy for the elderly patient. Our current practices are essentially ageist, as we are making judgements based on how old the patient is rather than on their capacity to be entered into clinical trials or to receive potentially curative therapy. It is disappointing that we see different principles being applied for older patients when compared to younger patients, with these differences leading to poorer outcomes in the elderly patient population."

Professor Lawler's findings are published in an editorial in the BMJ entitled, 'Ageism In Cancer Care: We Need to Change The Mindset'. It states the need to redress the disparities in the policy on cancer for older patients, citing a recent position paper from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the International Society of Geriatric Oncology recommending that clinical trials should be without an upper age limit.

A high proportion of older women with a certain form of breast cancer ('triple negative') receive less chemotherapy than their younger counterparts -- despite evidence of the treatment's efficacy in this patient cohort, the authors claim.

They also point out that more than 70 per cent of deaths caused by prostate cancer occur in men aged over 75 years, who usually have more aggressive disease. Few older patients, however, receive treatment for localised prostate cancer, and in most cases they are denied access to chemotherapy for advanced disease, they add.

"Colorectal cancer is another disease of older people, yet the evidence again suggests that optimal treatment is not being provided to this patient cohort," Professor Lawler continues.

The paper sets its argument within the context of an aging 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.

In the US, the number of over-65s is set to double at least, from around 40 million in 2009 to 89 million in 2050. Cancer is mainly a disease of the elderly. Given our aging demographic, the paper argues, this will lead to an exponential increase in the number of cancer deaths unless we change our approach towards the elderly cancer patient.

The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership -- a collaboration that compares clinical outcomes between Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Northern Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Wales -- has indicated decreased survival for patients older than 65 years. A EUROCARE 5 study confirmed this trend, suggesting that the survival gap was widening between older and younger patients in Europe.

The evidence provided highlights the 'urgent need' for a 'geriacentric' strategy that maximises clinical trial activity in older patients, makes existing treatments more available and develops new approaches that are well tolerated in older people, the paper says in its closing comments.

Professor Lawler concludes: "Such a strategy will also have to ensure that the principle of early diagnosis (underpinning more effective and less aggressive treatment) is applied in older patients as well as in their younger counterparts. Only then can we truly deliver a comprehensive cancer service to the elderly population in our society."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Lawler, P. Selby, M. S. Aapro, S. Duffy. Ageism in cancer care. BMJ, 2014; 348 (feb28 1): g1614 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g1614

Cite This Page:

Queen's University Belfast. "Older people denied proper access to cancer care, according to study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310111810.htm>.
Queen's University Belfast. (2014, March 10). Older people denied proper access to cancer care, according to study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310111810.htm
Queen's University Belfast. "Older people denied proper access to cancer care, according to study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310111810.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins