The cancer care community of patients, healthcare professionals, scientists, managers and charity workers, as well as the general public, are becoming increasingly aware of how vital it will be to plan thoroughly to meet the needs of the growing number of older people who will be living with cancer now and in the future. Not only will the number of cases increase but it will be essential for healthcare services to ensure that diagnostic approaches, treatments and care are satisfactorily tailored to meet the needs and choices of individuals who are at higher risk of comorbidities and frailty. We must avoid the pitfall of tailoring our approaches to individuals based on their chronological age: our approaches must fit with all the needs of older patients, from their financial outlook through to the support they can or cannot access, as well as their medical fitness.
Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK were pleased to support the Association of Cancer Physicians and the British Geriatrics Society in their 2014 workshop held in Manchester and in this publication, Problem Solving in Older Cancer Patients. Experts from the UK and abroad have provided perspectives on the important issues and challenges that we face in providing the right approaches to the diagnosis and care of older cancer patients. Importantly, the workshop and book are very patient-centred and focus on over 30 individual cases. The knowledge and skills of oncologists and geriatricians of all professions - established professionals as well as those in training - are brought to bear on individual cases. This integrated approach to the preparation of the book should help to ensure future integrated approaches in clinical care across the UK.
Experts have identified areas where we can learn from other countries, especially those in mainland Europe that have specific initiatives for the care of older cancer patients. The importance of innovation and research to allow us to find better ways of diagnosing and managing cancer in older people has been emphasized and is welcomed. The workshop and the book have highlighted the importance of the many different groups of healthcare professionals who together are responsible for caring for cancer patients and older people. Different professional groups often have different styles and different cultures but they all share the aim of bringing about the best outcomes, the best quality of life and the best experience for their patients. We anticipate that this new text will be a useful contribution to improving planning for the care of cancer patients and the development of clinical care teams from oncology, geriatrics, primary care and many others to deploy their skills for the maximum benefit of this important group of patients.
Alistair Ring, Danielle Harari, Tania Kalsi, Janine Mansi and Peter Selby, Editors
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support
Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK