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Saturday 24th August 2019

Cancer care worse for elderly

9th June 2011

A new report has highlighted an age bias against older people suffering from cancer in England.


The King’s Fund think tank study suggests that pensioners were more likely to die than in other countries because they were often diagnosed with the disease later and were less likely to receive surgery.

Estimates suggest that 15,000 people over 75 in Britain die prematurely from cancer each year compared with better-performing countries.

Catherine Foot, Senior Fellow at the King’s Fund, said: “England still has a way to go to reach cancer survival rates that are ranked with the best international performers. The evidence points to early diagnosis as being key to improving outcomes.

“We hope urgent priority is given to closing the gap in survival rates between different groups in society. We found that older people are particularly burdened by this, being more likely to have cancer, to be diagnosed later, to be under-treated and to experience worse outcomes.”

The document also said older patients were under-treated on the NHS, resulting in poorer survival and they were less likely to receive proper tests or surgery.

The Department of Health is launching 13 pilot schemes in conjunction with leading charities to tackle survival rates among the elderly.

Macmillan Cancer Support  chief executive Ciaran Devane said: “There is strong evidence to show that age, not their health, is the main consideration when choosing the most appropriate cancer treatment for older people.”

Meanwhile, findings show that half the money in the government’s Cancer Drugs Fund has gone unspent yet almost 200 people were refused treatment.


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