Some Elderly Patients may Not be Getting the Cancer Treatment They Need

Illinois-Asbestos-Attorney-Mesothelioma.jpgA recent study by the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University reveals disparities in the treatment given to elderly lung cancer patients, including those fighting mesothelioma and other deadly cancers. The study shows why it is so important for all mesothelioma patients, regardless of their demographic, to educate themselves and be proactive in their cancer treatment to improve their prognosis and maximize their survival term.

According to the study, which surveyed over 12,000 lung cancer patients at least 80 years old, African American patients were 20% less likely to receive chemotherapy and radiation to treat their condition. Furthermore, the research revealed that patients that lacked a high school education were 15% less likely to receive the same treatment as those with more education.

Another interesting trait uncovered in the study is that men are 40% more likely to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment than women. The survival benefit associated with combination therapy persisted even after accounting for factors like age, sex, race, income, and individual tumor characteristics.

Overall, 63% of the entire study population received no chemotherapy or radiation treatment and only 7% of those patients survived more than two years, compared to 31% of the people who received combined chemotherapy and radiation. The survival rate is higher for those who receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment; it is clear that all elderly oncology patients should receive this vital treatment to give themselves the best chance of living a prolonged life.

Experts weighing in on the disparities believe that the numbers may be attributed to differences in cultural or community beliefs about how aggressively to attack tumors in old age. Other theories suggest that because many African Americans have less access to transportation and the financial resources to pay for out of pocket expenses, they may be less likely to seek the care they need. Although the study only points out the disparities and does not attribute a cause, it is clear that much progress remains to be made to ensure thatall cancer patients get access to the vital treatment necessary to fight their disease.

“Elderly patients and their physicians should not be discouraged or timid to try available and recommended treatment options, including combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” said Asal Johnson, a public health researcher at Stetson University in Florida, who spoke to Reuters about his own analysis of the study. “Part of the disparities between older and younger patients can be eliminated if both doctors and patients avoid making conventional assumptions about treatment regimens for the elderly.”

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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