16 June 2011
Commenting on research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network that shows older women in the UK are less likely to have surgery for breast cancer than younger patients, Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
‘All women with breast cancer should be given the most appropriate treatment for them irrespective of their age, income or postcode. Worryingly, this research shows that women over 70 are less likely to have surgery and that poorer health in old age does not fully explain this difference.
‘Many women in their 70s, 80s and 90s are fit and well and could benefit from surgery. It’s vital that treatment decisions are not based on their age but on their overall physical and mental health.
‘Age discrimination, for any reason, is completely unacceptable. The pilots currently being trialled by Macmillan Cancer Support, the Department of Health and Age UK will be a crucial step in tackling the under treatment of older women with cancer. They will look at new ways of assessing an older person for cancer treatment and what short-term practical support can be given to help older people undergoing treatment.’
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Openshaw, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4699 (out of hours 07801 307068)
About the pilots:
Improving Cancer Treatment Assessment and Support for Older People Project: jointly funded by the Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support (registered charity no 261017), supported by Age UK (registered charity no 1128267).
The pilot project will see greater collaboration between acute care, primary care, social services and the voluntary sector to ensure that older people with cancer have their ability to benefit from curative treatment and their needs fully assessed, so that anyone who can benefit from curative treatment will receive along with practical support during treatment.
The pilot sites, which will run for a year, are located at hospitals across England. For more information about the pilots, please visit: www.macmillan.org.uk/olderpeople.