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Elderly cancer cases to increase 80% by 2035, says CRUK

Published on 21/06/18 at 11:24am

A new report from Cancer Research UK has indicated that the number of UK  citizens over the age of 75 with cancer is predicted to rise by up to 80% by the year 2035.

The rise would mean a considerable increase over current levels of diagnosis, which stand at around 130,000 people over 75 each year, to around 234,000 as the nation’s population ages. The elderly are still more likely to receive an emergency diagnosis and less likely to receive curative treatment, despite advances in the field leading to a doubling in cancer survival rates over the past four decades.

The report, titled Advancing Care, Advancing Years: Improving cancer treatment and care for an ageing population, has called for the NHS to prepare in advance for such an increase in demand for cancer care among the elderly, stressing the necessity for improved assessment to determine the best treatments and better evidence on how older patients are affected by medication.

“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,” commented Rose Gray, Policy Manager at Cancer Research UK. “It’s also highly likely that this group will be the hardest hit by wider pressures facing the NHS, including severe workforce shortages. While the additional investment announced this week is welcome, it falls short of what is likely to be needed to truly transform the way that patients are cared for.

“For 70 years, the NHS has been at the forefront of fighting cancer. But we need more investment in staff to give the best possible treatment and care for older cancer patients, both now and in the future,” she added.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s Head Information Nurse, also added: “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.

“Some older people with cancer might not be fit enough to have surgery and go through lengthy periods of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but as no two patients are the same, there will be others who are.

“That’s why it’s so important staff are well trained and resourced so they can assess older people properly and ensure they receive the right treatment, care and support specific to their individual needs."

Matt Fellows

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