(Source: Cancer.net) More than 60% of cancers in the United States occur in people age 65 and older. Cancers of the prostate, breast, colon, pancreas, bladder, stomach, lung, and rectum are the most common cancers in this age group.
Older adults with cancer and their families often have different needs than younger adults and children. Older people often have or are at higher risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, or high blood pressure, that can affect the treatment of and recovery from cancer. In addition, older people may not always have access to transportation, social support, or financial resources, affecting their care and recovery from cancer.
When making decisions about treatment, older adults and their doctors should consider their overall health and ability to keep up with daily activities; age alone should not determine treatment options. Community resources, social workers, and other services can help older adults access treatment and cope with the emotional and practical concerns of a cancer diagnosis.
Older cancer patients should know that:
- Even though cancer occurs most often in the older population, older people often receive less frequent screening for cancer, fewer tests to stage the type of cancer, and, in some cases, milder treatments or no treatment at all.
- Many studies show that people with cancer over age 65 are significantly under-represented in cancer clinical trials. In some of these studies, poorer care has led to shortened survival.
- Furthermore, many studies have shown that cancer treatment is beneficial for older people. Although some people associate older age with poor health, age alone should not determine treatment options.
Key Point 1
When it comes to cancer, there is no “one size fits all” treatment for the older patient, and if your age is a consideration, it should be in terms of physiological, not chronological age. The important thing to remember is that no matter what your age, you should know your options.
Key Point 2
Whether you are 65, 80 or 100, a host of factors – medical, practical and emotional – must be taken into account to devise a therapeutic plan. No matter what plan of action you choose, a partnership with your health care team can help you better manage your care.
Conduct an off-site search for Geriatric Oncology from MedlinePlus. These up-to-date search results are based on search terms specific to Second Opinion Key Points.