Your age should not stop you from being offered many of the available treatments for cancer. If your doctor does not recommend a particular treatment, it should be because the treatment is unlikely to be helpful and not because of your age.
The aim of cancer treatment may be to cure the cancer. Or it may be to control the cancer and relieve your symptoms.
Treatments can include:
- hormonal therapy
- targeted (biological) therapy.
It is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. You might want to ask some of the following questions:
- What will treatment involve?
- Where will I have treatment?
- How often will I need to have treatment?
- How long will the course of treatment last?
- What will happen if I do not have treatment?
Some people find that learning more about their treatment helps them feel prepared. It can also make it easier to plan ahead. You could ask about how you may feel during and after treatment.
If you are a carer, you and the person you care for might need extra help during and after your treatment. Asking questions can help you plan for this. We have more information for carers with cancer.
Accessing cancer information
Your healthcare team should give you as much information as you need to understand your diagnosis, treatment and possible side effects. This can help you to make informed choices.
Some people may need information in a different format. If your eyesight is poor, Macmillan and many other organisations produce information in large print. We can also produce Braille versions of our information on request. Some of our information is available as audiobooks.
If you have hearing difficulties or are deaf, some of the videos on our website have British Sign Language translation. We also have information in other languages.
You can call our support line on 0808 808 00 00 to ask about different formats.
Cancer research trials try to improve knowledge about cancer and cancer treatments. Trials that patients take part in are called clinical trials.
Some trials have an upper age limit. Other trials look at treatment for older people, so you may need to be over a certain age to take part.
You might be asked to take part in a clinical trial. If you choose to take part, you will be carefully monitored during and after the trial. If you decide not to take part, your decision will be respected. You won’t have to give a reason and you will be offered the standard treatment for your situation.
Your doctor or nurse can give you more information about the benefits and disadvantages of taking part in a trial.
Not all treatments work for everyone. It may be difficult for you and your doctors to decide which treatment is best for you. Doctors should plan your treatment to suit your individual situation. This is called personalising your treatment. They should consider:
- your general health
- your biological age (how well your body is working).
It is important that your doctor looks at your biological age, not just how old you are in years.
They should also be sensitive towards any religious or spiritual beliefs that you tell them about. For example, this could mean giving you information about therapies that may improve your spiritual well-being, such as meditation.