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Age no bar to cancer treatment success

Friday January 24th, 2014

Tens of thousands of elderly people are successfully treated for cancer, campaigners say today.

According to a new analysis, more than 130,000 people have survived for at least ten years after being diagnosed with cancer after the age of 65.

And more than 8,000 people over the age of 90 have lived for at least ten years after being diagnosed with the disease after the age of 80, according to the analysis.

The figures were released by Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

Over the age of 80, two-thirds of these long-term survivors are women, according to the analysis.

The campaigners say the figures illustrate the need to give elderly people good access to cancer treatment.

Dr Mick Peake, clinical lead at the network, 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.”

And Macmillan chief executive Ciarán Devane said many more elderly people could survive cancer if care in Britain matched some other countries.

He said: “It’s wrong to write off older people as too old for treatment. 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.”

Tags: Cancer | Elderly Health | NHS | UK News

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