Elderly getting left out of critical cancer research

- experts attending international conference on older cancer patients want new research, and treatment equity -

Boston, MA (September 30, 2002) Despite the median age of cancer patients reaching seventy years old, leading oncology experts from around the world say elderly patients are often excluded from important clinical trials and are not being offered the same treatment options as younger patients.

The experts, attending the 7th International Conference on Geriatric Oncology, have called for equity in access to treatment options and additional research among elderly cancer patients. New research is particularly needed in elderly patients with co-morbid conditions, such as heart disease, and in those taking multiple medications that can often interact adversely with one another.

"Cancer is an increasingly important problem in the elderly, yet there is a lack of research focusing on this important group," said Dr. Paul Calabresi of Providence, Rhode Island and president of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. "In the next ten years there will be an exponential increase in patient numbers. We can no longer ignore this important patient population," Calabresi added.

Commenting on the issue of access to treatments, Dr. Silvio Monfardini (Padore, Italy), future president of SIOG said, "Elderly cancer patients must be offered the same treatment options as younger patients, even if treatment of the elderly is less cost-effective."

"It is wrong and unethical to discriminate against a patient because of their age," Mondfardini concluded.

Highlights of the conference include Dr. Matti Aapro's (Clinique De Genolier, Switzerland) presentation on the guidelines for treating anemia in elderly cancer patients. When discussing patient care, Dr. Aapro states there is a clear need to continue the pioneering work of the U.S. National Cancer Network, demonstrating that all elderly patients need to be tr

Contact: Frances Godson
Shire Health New York

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