Commenting on research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network that shows older women in the UK are less likely to have surgery for breast cancer than younger patients, Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
“All women with breast cancer should be given the most appropriate treatment for them irrespective of their age, income or postcode. Worryingly, this research shows that women over 70 are less likely to have surgery and that poorer health in old age does not fully explain this difference.
“Many women in their 70s, 80s and 90s are fit and well and could benefit from surgery. It’s vital that treatment decisions are not based on their age but on their overall physical and mental health.
“Age discrimination, for any reason, is completely unacceptable. The pilots currently being trialled by Macmillan Cancer Support, the Department of Health and Age UK will be a crucial step in tackling the under treatment of older women with cancer. They will look at new ways of assessing an older person for cancer treatment and what short-term practical support can be given to help older people undergoing treatment.”