UK charity Leukaemia CARE has conducted new research into the lives of older people living with blood cancers and revealed inequalities in cancer care for elderly patients compared with those who are younger.
The research found that older patients are not receiving similar levels of information and support as younger patients.
In a report titled ‘Leukaemia: I wasn’t born yesterday’, the UK charity was found that up to 740 deaths of people over the age of 65 could be prevented every year if survival rates for leukaemia in the country matched the best in Europe.
All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) blood cancer chair Henry Smith said: “These findings confirm that older patients with leukaemia are not treated with the same priority and urgency as younger patients, which is unacceptable.
“This inequality in care and treatment is one of the reasons why the APPG on Blood Cancer has announced an enquiry into blood cancer care in the NHS.”
Leukaemia CARE called for prioritisation of older patients in line with younger patients.
As part of this priority, certain measures are required to be implemented to improve the information provided to older patients about their condition, and for decisions about treatment to be made based on the fitness of patients.
The research also found that only 37% of older patients have access to a nurse who specialises in blood cancers and older patients are less likely to know that leukaemia is a type of cancer than younger patients.
Older leukaemia patients are also less likely to be given advice on using the internet to carry out research about their condition.
The report’s findings will be discussed by leading blood cancer clinicians at the British Society of Haematology and will consider its recommendations.