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Surge in older cancer survivors expected as baby boomers age
Date:12/10/2008

lizzi, a cancer survivorship researcher and assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut. "These are: the aging of the baby boomers, the age sensitive nature of cancer, and the increased survival for those diagnosed with cancer."

There is growing consensus, Bellizzi said, that researchers and clinicians will need to take a multidisciplinary approach to address this challenge incorporating perspectives from geriatrics, oncology, behavioral medicine, and public health.

"Further alarming are two recent reports which warn of a looming shortage of adult oncologists and geriatricians in the coming decades," said Bellizzi, one of the Cancer supplement's lead authors and a former scientist with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. "Two pressing questions that need to be addressed are: 1) Who and how will we care for the growing population of older individuals with cancer, many of whom also will have competing health conditions, and 2) what are the unique physical, mental and social issues that they face. Regrettably, research has not kept pace with this growing population."

Here are some of the critical issues facing the country's growing population of older cancer survivors as presented in the special supplement:

Prevention - There is a prevalent bias in the medical community and the general public that believes since many older people suffer from chronic disease, the focus should be on illness management rather than prevention. (Smoking cessation programs being one example) Since little evidence based prevention research exists in older populations, physicians are often forced to make their own judgment calls.

Screening - In general, older adults are less likely to be screened for cancer and are more likely to receive incomplete diagnostic workups. Future research in cancer screening should be devoted to developing or updating screening guidelines
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Contact: Colin Poitras
colin.poitras@uconn.edu
860-486-4656
University of Connecticut
Source:Eurekalert

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