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Elderly people live for years after cancer diagnosis

MORE than 11,000 people in Scotland have survived for at least 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of 65 or older, research has shown.

The study which looked at all cancers over the 20 years leading up to 2010 also found 735 people in Scotland diagnosed at 80 or over had survived for at least 10 years.

The findings, produced by Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Cancer Intelligence Network, come after research published last year found older people in the UK have higher mortality rates than older people in other countries.

A study showed that for many common cancers such as prostate, breast, lung, stomach, ovary, kidney and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the UK and Ireland had a lower five-year survival rate than the rest of Europe for patients of all ages, however the gap was generally greatest for patients over 75.

Jim Robertson, of Perth, said he remained in good health after receiving treatment for lung cancer two years ago. The 79-year-old said:"I was lucky because the cancer was found early and I was able to have surgery. Often, lung cancer is found too late for that.

"I do not think any older person should decide they are too old for treatment and I do not think any health professional should take that approach either."

Macmillan wants the NHS to use assessments that test a patient's overall physical and mental wellbeing to ensure treatment decisions are not based on age alone.

The charity also wants the Scottish Government to make sure its Detect Cancer Early programme is encouraging older people to talk to their doctor if they have any worries about cancer.

Janice Preston, Macmillan's general manager in Scotland, said: "It is important older people, their families, and health professionals know cancer can be successfully treated.

"However it is vital we ensure any potential barriers to treatment are picked up and tackled because this research shows older people can be successfully treated."

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Health

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