OLDER PATIENTS

Ageism may affect older cancer patients.  So says AARP magazine, Nov./Dec.’ 05. Almost 50% of breast cancer cases involve women 65 and older, yet according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, only 8% of those patients received chemo.  Patients in their 50s were almost 4 times more likely to be offered chemo . The problem extends to other cancers as well.

The discrimination in a big way is due to physician bias-a belief that older bodies simply can’t handle the rigors of chemo.  And that may be true. But doctor’s reticence,. while well meaning, may ultimately be misguided.  The JAMA study found that older women receiving aggressive chemo showed the same improved survival rates as women who were much younger.  Patients 65 or 70 have a lot more years left than they did decades ago..

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