A new report has found that although the NHS is well equipped to deliver breast cancer care, it requires improvement for over 70s.
The National Audit of Breast Cancer in Older Patients, published for the first time today (18 July 2017) by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Association of Breast Surgery, has found that services require improvements to meet the individual needs of older patients.
The audit surveyed 142 NHS breast cancer units in England and Wales, identifying a number of service improvements needed to meet the individual needs of older breast cancer patients. The report includes a number of recommendations to help achieve this, from calling on breast cancer units to review whether patients and carers feel they are involved adequately in decision making, to calling for local protocols to be developed and implemented to improve the formal assessment of older patients’ health.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“We’ve been extremely concerned for some time that older breast cancer patients may not be receiving the best treatment for them, with assumptions wrongly being made about their suitability for therapy because of their age. This crucial audit represents a major step towards putting this unjust inequality right.
“Significant variation in care levels persists, and the report’s discovery that older women are less involved in decision-making on their care is incredibly worrying. It’s imperative that breast cancer units across the country now tackle this issue, exploring how specialists in delivering older patient care could be involved to enable all patients to participate in their own treatment planning.
“As the audit continues, we hope the full extent of these unacceptable inequalities across the UK in treatment for older women can now be identified and urgently addressed, to ensure patients of all ages receive the world-class care they deserve.”