Bladder cancer patients over the age of 60 may not be given curative treatments on the NHS, despite having a higher proportion of more aggressive tumours.
Older bladder cancer patients are not being given the same treatment
Researchers looked at the records of 3,300 bladder cancer patients who were diagnosed between 1994 and 2009 in Sheffield.
They found that whilst more than half of patients under the age of 60 were given treatments that could potentially cure their disease such as surgery or radiotherapy, older patients were missing out.
In fact, only a third of patients in their 70s were offered the same procedures, and this fell to 12% in those over the age of 80.
This is despite patients in the older age groups having a higher proportion of more aggressive tumours.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, also found that patients over 70 were more likely to die of the disease than younger patients.
Bladder cancer is associated with ageing, and most cases occur in older adults. According to the NHS, the average age of diagnosis is 68.
Study author James Catto from the University of Sheffield said: “Even though it appears that older patients are more likely to have aggressive tumours, our findings suggest that not enough older patients are being offered treatments that could increase their chance of survival.”
“What's very worrying is this conservative approach to treating older patients appears to be affecting the life expectancy of this group, something that doctors must work hard to combat.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “It is shocking and wrong to deny people treatment just because of their age, which is why we have made it illegal. Patients must receive the right treatment for their condition, and this should be determined by accurate diagnosis.”
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