Should Age Play a Role in Cancer Treatment?

Age And Cancer
Age And Cancer

Doctors and patients are rethinking their approach to cancer treatments for people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. According to the National Cancer Institute, the average age of cancer diagnosis in the U.S. is 66; yet the average life expectancy is 81 for U.S. women and 76 for men, according to National Geographic’s U.S. life expectancy map. With the average American living well past 65 and a growing number of people living into their 90s, cancer advocates say it’s time to take age out of the cancer treatment equation.

“What really matters is not chronological age, but functional age,” Dr. Ewa Mrozek, an oncologist at the Ohio State University Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, told the Columbus Dispatch. With plans to begin a clinic devoted to serving the needs of older cancer patients, the center is riding the leading edge of a national sea change in America’s approach to treating older cancer patients.

A growing number of people are arguing that age should no longer be the primary basis for deciding whether a person will be unable to withstand the rigors of traditional cancer treatment — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — and its usually traumatic side effects. Of more importance in determining how aggressively to fight cancer should be the individual’s general health – physical, cognitive and emotional — and the impact any other medical conditions or chronic illnesses might have on his ability to benefit from cancer treatment.

Older cancer patients may want to consider the important options offered by alternative cancer treatment centers. Issels Integrative Oncology’s individualized immunotherapy provides cancer patients with a personalized, non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals and radiation without the strenuous side effects.