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Agesim in medicine: 2

An interesting study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology concerned the reality that even the practice of oncology, that is, taking care of people with cancer, is very ageist.

It all begins with one pretty damning statistic: Although 2/3 of people with cancer are over the age of 65 (after all, the rate of nearly all cancers rises sharply with age), people over the age of 65 account for only 30 % of all participants in cancer studies.

There are several good reasons that older people are not included nearly as often as they should be in cancer trials.

Older people often suffer from other health conditions which might limit to a certain extent the interpretation of data on those people, older people are asked much less frequently by their doctors to be a study participant even though studies have shown that when asked, older people are just as willing as younger ones to enroll in a cancer study, and of course, there is the ever-present concern by doctors that an older person might not handle the downsides of a trial intervention as well as a younger one.

But that still leaves the same shameful bottom line: Although people over 65 make up the vast majority of cancer patients, the treatments, the drugs, the techniques, everything in fact that is used on them has been tested to a much greater extent on mostly a younger population.

Time for that to end.