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Cancer in the elderly: Research fails to keep up with demographic change
Date:5/11/2012

the elderly," says Dr Rotbl Bje, "particularly when recruiting them into trials. They will often have other medical conditions that need to be treated, and the design of trials needs to take this into account. We need trials that focus on both fit and frail elderly patients.

"There are some problems in treating older patients with radiotherapy, but this is not only due to their chronological age but also to the fact that there is more co-morbidity among the elderly. This can affect quality of life and can lead to treatment interruptions and hospitalisation. We believe that an accurate assessment of co-morbidities before starting treatment in elderly patients is essential in order to decide on the best and most appropriate treatment for this patient group."

In developed countries, half of all cancers already occur in patients aged 70 and over, and by 2050 the majority of older people will live in developing countries [2]. Yet the session highlighted not only the problem of co-morbidities but also how little research is conducted specifically into cancer patients over the age of 70 and the lack of clinical trials for this age group.

In another presentation, Professor David Sebag-Montefiore, from St. James's Institute of Oncology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, will provide further evidence of the need to undertake such an assessment in older patients. "It is very clear that we need to do further research to determine the optimal treatments for our ageing population and their associated co-morbid conditions. We need to get the balance right and avoid inappropriate under- and over-treatment," he will say.

Doctors currently rely on clinical experience, knowledge of the complete medical history of the patient, and an assessment of the severity of co-morbidities when deciding whether a patient is sufficiently fit to undergo a particular treatment. But this is not always enough, and further studies are required to help clinicians define
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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