The cancer services coming of age report summarises a series of pilots that tested whether appropriate assessment of older cancer patients would result in improved access to appropriate cancer treatment, based on need and not age. They also tested whether action, as a result of an age appropriate assessment, improved the scope for older people to benefit from treatment.
Cancer services face 3 key challenges in relation to older people over the coming years including:
- improving survival rates in the population aged 75 years and over
- to deliver high quality services to increasing numbers of older patients with cancer, including age appropriate assessment, for example the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA)
- the involvement of elderly care specialists
Pilots have demonstrated that using the CGA and involving elderly care specialists make a significant difference to older patients in making decisions about treatment and not having those decisions made for them, based on assumptions on their willingness to undergo treatment and their tolerance to it.
The report emphasises the importance of abiding by the Equality Act 2010, now extended to public services in 2012, to ensure that there is no direct or indirect discrimination in the delivery of health services to older people with cancer. It makes 6 recommendations to services, which may assist better provision for all cancer patients if holistic, tailored assessment, treatment and advice is delivered.
The cancer services coming of age report is aimed at commissioners, commissioning support units and providers to help them understand how services may offer appropriate assessments and treatments to older cancer patients.
This report is based on the Improving Cancer Treatment, Assessment and Support for Older People Project, which was funded and jointly published by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Department of Health, and delivered in partnership with Age UK.