Some cancer patients being 'written off' as too old

Some cancer patients are being "written off" as too old for treatment, the charity Macmillan Cancer Support has warned, despite more than 130,000 pensioners in the UK surviving for at least 10 years after being diagnosed.

BMA: Older cancer patients must get 'care and respect'

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said the profession must "guarantee" that older cancer patients "are treated with care and respect" after claims some are denied treatment solely on their age.

It is important that all healthcare professionals ensure that patients are treated on the basis of their clinical need.

With an increasingly ageing population, it should be a key part of medical professionalism to guarantee that older patients are treated with the care and respect they deserve.

– Dr Mark Porter, the BMA's chairman of council

Age alone 'should not decide' cancer treatment fate

The charity has said many cancer sufferers in the UK are being denied treatment because they are deemed to be too old. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Macmillan Cancer Support said health workers should ensure decisions over cancer treatment take into account a patient's physical and mental health and not be based on age alone.

The National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), which carried out the research into pensioner survival rates alongside the charity, joined the call for wider assessment.

NCIN's clinical lead Dr Mick Peake said: "It is vital that all patients receive the best and most effective treatment based on the nature of their cancer and their fitness for treatment and that chronological age alone is not the deciding factor.

"We know that cancer survival rates in older patients in many other countries are better than in the UK and ensuring optimal treatment at all ages is the way of tackling this issue."

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Charity says older cancer patients are being 'written off'

The UK and Ireland have a lower five-year survival rate than the rest of Europe for many cancers, the charity said. Credit: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive

A leading charity has warned cancer patients are being "written off" as being too old for treatment, saying assessments are ignoring fitness levels to judge on age alone.

Macmillan Cancer Support spoke out after finding more than 130,000 pensioners who have been diagnosed with cancer have gone on to live for at least a decade, including 8,000 patents over the age of 80.

The charity's chief executive, Ciaran Devane, said: "With a proper assessment and appropriate treatment, our research shows that many older cancer patients can live for a long time and can even be cured.

"The barriers to getting treatment - which include age discrimination and inadequate assessment methods - must be tackled now so more older people can survive cancer and live for many years."