The elderly are more likely to be diagnosed as an emergency
The number of older people diagnosed with cancer every year could rise by up to 80% to nearly a quarter of a million by 2035, the charity Cancer Research UK has warned.
Every year around 130,000 people aged 75 and over in the UK develop cancer, but by 2035 this is projected to rise to around 234,000, largely because of the ageing population.
Despite cancer survival doubling over the last 40 years, it is still lower among older people who are more likely to be diagnosed in an emergency and less likely to receive curative treatment.
Cancer Research UK has urged the health service to make sure it is prepared for rising numbers of older patients with more complex needs.
Rose Gray, Cancer Research UK’s policy manager, warned that if nothing is done the disparity in care between older and younger cancer patients will 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,” she added.
Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head information nurse, said 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.
For example, some older people with cancer might not be fit enough to have surgery and go through lengthy periods of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.