A ground-breaking report backed by the UK’s leading breast cancer charities has outlined new and urgent recommendations to combat issues of health inequality for older breast cancer patients.
The report, Age is Just a Number, from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer (APPGBC), recommends proactive measures to address long-suspect issues surrounding access to treatment, services and support for these patients.
The 9 key recommendations include calls for steps to ensure all older breast cancer patients have the information they need about their treatment, in the way that they wish to receive it; ensure requirements of older women are fully taken into account when developing guidelines; ensure all breast cancer patients have their needs fully assessed; and ensure all necessary support services, including psychosocial support, for breast cancer patients are in place to allow cancer treatment to begin within cancer waiting time targets.
The recommendations are backed by renowned broadcaster Dame Jenni Murray DBE, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Joan Brown a Patient Advocate spoke movingly about her cancer experience and the importance of advocacy support to older cancer patients particularly those who are isolated with no family or friends to support them.
Independent Advocacy provided by trained peers is proving to be of vital importance to isolated older people. Over 90 percent of health professionals have treated cancer patients who do not have the support of family and friends, and more than half of healthcare professionals say isolated patients make poorer treatment decisions as reported in the Facing the Fight Alone: isolation among cancer patients report published February 2013.
It has never been more important to champion access to the best possible support services, including independent advocacy and standards of care, regardless of age or location. To think that elderly breast cancer patients could be missing out on the best services in the NHS is completely unacceptable.
“Breast cancer is more common in older women so we must make sure that all age groups have the best possible access to health information, treatment and support.
A full copy of the report can be found here.