16:31 20 December 2012
A report devised by Age UK, the Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support has looked into whether older people are benefitting from maximum treatment with regards to having cancer. The review considered health care patients over 65-years-old.
Based on the findings, supposedly older people may not be receiving the best treatment for cancer. There are warnings that when issuing treatment, the decision should not be based on a patient’s age but rather on a person’s situation with regards to their health.
The report also claimed that NHS staff should be open-minded about treatment when dealing with cancer patients, and that more training could be given in this field.
It is thought that the number of people aged 65-years-old and above who are expected to be hit by cancer will increase by 2032. The figure is thought to rise by almost 3miilion; from 1.3million to 4.1million cancer sufferers.
The Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, Ciaran Devane, said: "Unless staff are given the time and training to carry out a proper assessment of a patients overall physical and mental well-being, some patients will be unfairly written-off as too old for treatment.
"The right practical support, whether it's transport or help with caring responsibilities must also be put in place so older people needing treatment can actually take it up."
Mr. Devane added that: "Unless the barriers to timely treatment are tackled now, many older people could die unnecessarily from cancer and services will become unaffordable.”
The UK’s Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, commented on the situation. He said: "It is shocking and wrong to deny people treatment just because of their age, which is why we have made it illegal.
"However, we agree that more still needs to be done to improve treatment for cancer patients over 70 - which is why we worked with Macmillan on this report to understand how to address this."
Earlier this year the Department of Health reportedly said there was evidence that older people in the UK do not benefit from the best cancer treatment compared to others. It is thought that older patients are less likely to benefit from radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
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