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20.08.12

Cancer rates among elderly a ‘ticking time bomb’

The rate of cancer in older people is a ‘ticking time-bomb’, a new report says, with 4.1 million over-65s likely to be living with cancer in 2040

A study conducted by King’s College London and funded by Macmillan Cancer Support found that nearly one in four older people will receive a cancer diagnosis by this time. In 2010, 1.3 million over-65s had cancer.

Researchers believe this increase could be attributable to the ageing population, increased incidence of cancer and increasing survival rates.

Professor Henrik Moller, one of the study authors, said: “The aim of this research is to provide long-term projections of cancer prevalence in the UK. The research shows that large increases can be expected in the oldest age groups in the coming decades and, with this, an increased demand upon health services.”

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Ciaran Devane said: “The care of older cancer patients is the ticking time-bomb for society. These stark predictions should act as a warning to the NHS and social care providers of the problems ahead if older cancer patients are not offered the best treatment and support.

“We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age. For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up.

“The barriers to older people getting treatment must be tackled. If we don’t get this right now, many older people will be dying unnecessarily from cancer in the future.”

Macmillan is calling for a more effective way of assessing older people for treatment, more short-term practical support to enable them to take up recommended treatment and training for professionals working with older people within the NHS to promote age equality.

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