Report shows older Canadians less likely to receive recommended cancer treatments than younger patients

March 26, 2014

TORONTO, March 26, 2014 /CNW/ – The most comprehensive review of the
performance of Canada’s cancer control systems reveals that some older
Canadians with colon, lung or breast cancer are not receiving
guideline-recommended radiation and chemotherapy at the same rate as
younger patients with these cancers.

This age-related disparity may be explained by a number of factors. For
example, older people are more likely to have other acute and or
chronic health problems, which could make the risks of chemotherapy or
radiation therapy outweigh the potential benefits. But the new report
suggests that these legitimate factors may explain just part of the
apparent age-related treatment gap. It may be that too many older
patients are in fact not receiving cancer therapies that could improve
their health outcomes–including longer survival.

“The risk of cancer increases with age, and as Canada’s population ages,
the number and proportion of older cancer patients also rises,” said
Dr. Heather Bryant, VP of Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership
Against Cancer. “Over 40% of cancer cases occur in Canadians over the
age of 70. This report shows that these Canadians are not always
receiving treatments that could affect their course of care.”

The 2014 Cancer System Performance Report was developed by the Canadian
Partnership Against Cancer, an independent federally funded
organization responsible for leading the national cancer control
strategy. Here are some details contained in the new report about
age-related differences in treatment, along with findings related to
end-of life care:

        --  The use of post-surgical chemotherapy to treat colorectal
            cancer was close to 80% for patients under age 60, but dropped
            to below 50% for patients over 70.

        --  Only 40% of breast cancer patients aged 80 years and over
            received radiation therapy following breast conserving surgery
            as recommended by national guidelines, compared to 85% of
            patients younger than 80 with the same disease.

        --  While surveys suggest the majority of cancer patients prefer to
            die at home, 71% of Canadian cancer patients died in a
            hospital, while only 10-13% passed away at home. This situation
            contrasts starkly with what happens in some European countries,
            where the majority of cancer patients are able to die at home
            with proper support systems.

“Like all provincial cancer care organizations, the Saskatchewan Cancer
Agency strives to provide high quality cancer care to patients,” said
Dr. Monica Behl, VP of Medical Services and Senior Medical Officer at
the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. “The System Performance Report helps us
to stimulate important discussion about what is working well and where
there are areas for improvement. The new report affirms where we have
improved as we continue to enhance care for our population”.

Each province and territory is currently responsible for the planning,
funding and delivery of its own cancer services. Making national
comparisons can help to identify best practices and opportunities for
improvement. The 2014 Cancer System Performance Report is the fifth
annual review of Canada’s cancer control system. Developed in
collaboration with provincial cancer agencies and programs, Statistics
Canada, and other provincial and national partners, the report provides
measures for and analysis on provincial cancer control services
spanning across the cancer-care journey, from prevention and screening,
to diagnosis, treatment, the patient experience, end-of-life care,
research and system efficiency.

For more information on Canada’s cancer system performance, please visit

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer works with Canada’s cancer community to reduce the burden of cancer on
Canadians. Grounded in and informed by the experiences of those
affected by cancer, the organization works with partners to support
multi-jurisdictional uptake of evidence that will help to optimize
cancer control planning and drive improvements in quality of practice
across the country. Through sustained effort and a focus on the cancer
continuum, the organization supports the work of the collective cancer
community in achieving long-term population outcomes: reduced incidence
of cancer, less likelihood of Canadians dying from cancer, and an
enhanced quality of life of those affected by cancer.

SOURCE Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Source: PR Newswire

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