Number of elderly cancer patients set to soar

22 June 2018 08:41

Cancer Research UK said that the number of older cancer patients could rise by 80% over the next two decades

Cancer Research UK said that the number of older cancer patients could rise by 80% over the next two decades

The number of older people diagnosed with cancer is set to increase dramatically over the next 20 years, according to experts.

Cancer Research UK said that the number of older cancer patients could rise by 80% over the next two decades.

The charity reported that currently 130,000 Brits over the age of 75 are diagnosed with cancer every year.

But by 2035 an ageing population could see that figure rocket to 234,000, the charity predicted.

In response to this prediction, the charity has called on the health service to ensure it is well prepared for the rising number of elderly cancer patients.

Low survival rates

The charity's new report warned there was evidence that the gap between the UK's cancer survival rates and that of the best-performing countries was worse for older patients.

For example, the difference in survival rates for breast cancer patients from Europe and those from the UK and Ireland could largely be accounted for by the low survival rates of women aged 75 and over, the report stated.

And five-year survival rates for bowel cancer were 15% lower in UK patients aged 75 and older than the equivalent patients in Canada diagnosed between 2005 and 2007.

The report set out how older patients were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer as an emergency patient, which could mean their cancer was more advanced and harder to treat.

Between 2006 and 2015, 41% of all cancers in those aged 80-84 were diagnosed in an emergency in England, compared with 14% of cancers in those aged 50-59.

Growing disparity

Rose Gray, Cancer Research UK's policy manager said: "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."

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head information nurse, 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."

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