Elderly cancer victims “failed by NHS ageism” with patients written off as too frail for treatment
Elderly cancer sufferers die in greater numbers than younger patients because of NHS ageism, official figures suggest.
Only half of sufferers aged 75 and over will live more than a year, compared with the three quarters of those in middle age who can expect to do so.
Campaigners warn that thousands of patients are written off by doctors who assume they will prove too frail for lifesaving treatment.
“Written off”: Campaigners say doctors assume lifesaving procedures are too dangerous for the old (file picture)
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2009 only 53 per cent of patients over 75 diagnosed with cancer were alive one year later. /12/14/article-2073825-0F2AD4CD00000578-410_233x298.jpg” width=”233″ height=”298″ alt=””Worrying”: Macmillan”s Mike Hobday said the cancer charity was concerned decisions in hospitals are often based purely on age” class=”blkBorder” />
“Worrying”: Macmillan”s Mike Hobday said the cancer charity was concerned decisions in hospitals are often based purely on age
Mike Hobday, director of policy and research at the charity, said: ‘We know older people are less likely to receive curative treatment than younger patients.
‘We are concerned that treatment decisions are too often being made on the basis of a patient’s age, regardless of how fit or frail they may be. Overall cancer survival is improving but worryingly older people are still much less likely to survive the first year.’
Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy, said: ‘Older people may feel reluctant to see a doctor or they may dismiss possible cancer symptoms as part of old age. If cancer survival rates in the UK are to improve we urgently need to address variations in survival by age.
‘Spotting cancer early really is key, cancer patients of all ages need to be diagnosed as soon as possible so that they can be offered all the treatment options available, regardless of how old they are.’