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JenniferB- Macmillan

Macmillan campaigns

Keep up to date with Macmillan's campaigns, current issues, and how we’re working with government to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

Blog Entry

It’s the age old excuse

  • Comments 6

You may have seen the story splashed all over the news this week about the rising number of older people predicted to be living with cancer in 30 years time. Our research shows that the number will triple from 1.3 million in 2010 to a staggering 4.1 million in 2040.

This is incredibly worrying because we know that older people with cancer are not getting the best treatment for their cancer. And if that is happening now, the future looks stark.

We hear from patients, their friends, family and clinicians who say that some older people are not getting offered the right treatment (e.g. chemotherapy) due to age-based assumptions made about how well they will cope.

These assumptions mean that potentially lifesaving treatment is not even considered in the same way it is for a younger person.  

There are also issues with access. Transport difficulties and lack of support with caring responsibilities can result in people not being able to get to treatment.

This is why we are campaigning for treatment and care based on physical fitness rather than age and for older people to be given the practical help they need so they don’t miss out on treatment and get the right support at home.

Read more about our Age Old Excuse campaign and sign up to campaign with us to make sure that older people get the care they need and deserve. 

  • Sorry tried to sign up but it just hung!  
  • Done!
  • Paddyman - sorry you had trouble signing up. I just tested the link and it seemed to work fine. Can you try again and email if you are still having trouble? Twirly - thanks, great to have you on board! Kajal
  • Thanks Kajal, It worked that time! Colin
  • Hello. I very much appreciated the publication of that paper but rather than being 'incredibliy worried' I'd like to see some rather more positive engagement from ALL the cancer voluntary sector with cancer as a disease of ageing. Whilst fashion continues to target breast cancer, as an example, older women, never fashion's preferred demographic, will lose, lose and lose again. The cancer voluntary sector must wake up to how their PR can be part of the problem of ageism in cancer care. If 'old people and cancer' stories are difficult to get into the media, and they are, work out how to change this. If you don't, nothing will improve. Hand wringing from the sidelines is a feeble contribution. Get RADICALISED! Macmillan are starting - you show the only evidence of an interest in old age I have see in the sector and I salute you. You are eliding 'survivorship' and treatment for a current cancer, which are two different issues that will manifest in old age but, as a whole, I agree they are the issues to be addressed.  We know access to treatment can be a problem  but what about elsewhere - access to rehab. services, or pain management? My prejudice says there's not quite so much face time with senior doctors for older men and women as there might be for someone of 40. Whose assessing that? The recent Patent Experience Survey managed to miss a whole chunk of old people. A third of cancers diagnosed are in the over 75's but the survey only got just over a fifth of their respondents in that group. Older people as surveyed seemed reasonably content but maybe the missing 10% were the older old (over 85s) who may be discontent, distressed and discriminated against, and unable to respond. Work with other charities too - The British Heart Foundation for example, or the Stroke Association. The cancer charity sector must rein in their condition specific silo-thinking for older people. Older people have co-morbidities. Some have lots of them. Their cancer is complicated, not 'simply' old.
  • Hi Mrs Trellis, Thank you for your comments and ideas on issue. We’re doing a lot of work at the moment with Age UK and the Department of Health – to explore where the gaps are in older people and cancer care and pilot services with joined-up thinking and tailored care for older people. On the right hand column of that page you’ll also find links to short films on our pilot projects and the impact they’re having. As you have said, it’s really important to be working with other charities so that there is a coordinated approach to care. Macmillan are a member of the Richmond Group of Charities which works together to ensure that happens in the health sector. It’s great to have passionate people like you behind the campaign so I hope you’ll keep an eye on our as we’re planning some bigger campaign activity later this year – and we’ll need advocates like you on our side. Thanks again, Kajal