Aging and Cancer
The risk of cancer rises as we get older. In fact, approximately 60% of all people with cancer are 65 or older. I have heard this statistics for years, and, although I believe it, at least I believe the sources, it never really computes as I look around our waiting rooms and treatment areas. We have all too many younger, and some much younger, patients.
There are reasons for this, of course. Some older people may receive less aggressive treatment for their illness and may not be sitting in our Infusion Area. Some older people may choose not to deal with trips to the city for medical care and are being seen closer to home in community settings. The fact remains that cancer is too often an illness of aging, and being already older and more frail may make the cancer experience even more difficult.
This article is from Cancer Net and nicely summarizes the issues:
Aging and Cancer
Age is the greatest risk factor for developing cancer. In fact, 60% of people who have cancer are 65 or older. So are 60% of cancer survivors. If you are an older adult with cancer, you are not alone. But you should know that age is just one factor in your cancer and treatment.
The best treatment plan for you depends on your general health, lifestyle, wishes, and other factors. The information on these pages can help you learn your options, cope with concerns, and plan for treatment and recovery.
How being older can affect cancer treatment
Knowing how cancer and treatment might affect you as an older adult is important. You can plan to get help during treatment. If you are concerned about practical issues, such as getting to treatment or paying for it, tell your health care team. They can help you identify potential means of support.
The list below gives tips on planning for some common situations you might face as an older adult.
You have another disease or disability – Talk with your doctor about your medications and treatment plan for all your conditions. Make sure your cancer doctor talks with your other doctors. It is important for your entire health care team to know your situation.
You worry about getting to treatment and appointments -- Talk with family members and your health care team about options. Many cities have special bus services for people with health concerns. Other options include private medical transportation, rides from friends and family, and more. A social worker on your cancer care team can help you learn about your options.