This paper tries to tackle the controversial issue as to whether elderly people with cancer should be treated or not? Arguments for both and against treatment of elderly patients have been discussed in this paper. It is clear that the main point of disagreement between the two sides has been on the issue of efficiency and side effects arising from cancer treatments on the elderly patients. Both sides of the argument have come forward with conflicting opinions regarding the efficiency and side effects of cancer treatment.
The paper has also focused on the other factors of discussions. Medical personnel attitude towards age has been discussed. Effects of co-existing conditions and possible solutions have also been analyzed in the paper. Other emotional and physical issues affecting elderly patients with cancer are highlighted in the paper. This paper has fully and sufficiently reviewed all the relevant issues relating to cancer treatment for the elderly.
Arguments on elderly cancer treatment, Grade school level
In the paper, various reasons for and against the treatment of elderly patients with cancer have been outlined. The paper has also touched on the possible remedies for problems relating to treatment of elderly cancer patients. Practical issues affecting elderly patients have also been identified and discussed in the paper.
Arguments on cancer treatment for elderly patients
The controversial issue of discussion, should elderly people who have cancer be treated? Arguments have come up in support and against cancer treatments for the elderly. Both sides have valid reasons for their stand. The main reason as to why such a controversy exists is the lack of definite and clear outline on the efficiency of cancer treatment on the elderly. Both sides hold conflicting opinions with regards to cancer treatment in old patients.
Several solutions have been put forward but with no major achievements. All we have seen so far is a little bit of accommodation and not real compromise. Solutions that have been put forward are still being tested not fully adopted. Medical practitioners are now including older people in their clinic trials. Hospitals are sensitizing and training their staff about attitudes towards age. There are undergoing scientific researches into the efficiency and side effects of cancer treatment to the elderly. Such are practical evidence that real a compromise between supporters and those against cancer treatment for the elderly is within the reach but not yet a reality. Once a concrete scientific finding is published on the efficiency and effects of cancer treatment among the elderly, there would be a compromise.
Both sides of the arguments have based the arguments on facts and proved data. Arguments brought forward are not just untrue baseless opinions aimed at misleading the society. They are arguments that hold ground and backed by relevant data. An argument such as the claim that most clinical trials are not inclusive of old people is based on statistical data from previous clinical trials. Claims such as medical personnel lack adult care training and undertreat old cancer patients are facts gotten from interviewing of doctors. Although it might be notated that some arguments were based on partial truths, most of the arguments were from complete and verifiable data.
Those against the cancer treatment for the old have employed the concept of the end justifies the means. Their rigidity on the issue of efficiency of cancer treatment among the elderly has made them hold the notion its better not treat the old than deal with uncertainties of efficiency of the treatment. Rather than take a risk or compromise and treat them, they argue that basing on the lack of clarity on the effects and efficiency of cancer treatment on the elderly, its better to not provide treatment.
Arguments for Cancer Treatment for Elderly patients.Those arguing for the treatment of elderly cancer patients have put forward several reasons. Good health is a fundamental right of all human beings. Regardless of an individuals age, anyone suffering from cancer has the right to seek quality attention since its a fundamental right of all human beings. People should not be withheld from cancer treatment just because of their age. Old cancer patients should be availed the necessary and quality medical attention as availed to other cancer patients.
They have also argued it is unfair to lock out elderly cancer patients from cancer treatment because of uncertainties. The uncertainties regarding the efficiency and side effects of cancer treatment on the elderly patients. It has been argued that since treatment is the only option available currently, it should be used on all cancer patients. Research into its effectiveness and the side effects should be carried out but at the same time administering of the cancer treatment to elderly patients should also be carried out. Until a solution is found treatment should be availed to all cancer patients.
It has also been argued that it is the doctors wrong opinion that leads to under treatment of elderly cancer patients and not their wish. The kind of treatment to be used should not be a decision only made by the doctor, but an involving one as most doctors opt for under treatment in a situation that involves treatment of an elderly cancer patient.
Supporters for the treatment of older cancer patients have also claimed that co-existing conditions should not be a reason for under treatment or failure to administer treatment. They have argued that since treatments for co-existing conditions are already known, cancer treatment should be done at the same time while treating the co-existing conditions. Doctors should not use co-existing conditions for undertreating or failing to treat elderly cancer patients.
Arguments against Cancer Treatment for Elderly Patients.Supporters for this argument argue that aging makes it an irrelevant move to try to treat of elderly cancer patients. They argue that with old age an individual is prone to other diseases and disabilities. Such issues do negatively affect the cancer treatment process. Health conditions such as kidney, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart diseases are more frequent among the older population. To an individual with cancer such issues are referred to as co-existing conditions, and they do interfere with the administration of cancer treatment.
It is also argued that older individuals have a lower tolerance to stress. Their old age makes them to be physically unsuited to carry out day to day physically demanding activities. Frustrations brought abought by the failure to carry out daily physical activities makes elderly cancer patients less tolerant to stress. With the low tolerance to stress, older people will find it hard to keep up with the stress that comes with cancer treatment. And this negatively affects the progress and efficiency of cancer treatment among the elderly.
Hippocratic Oath, where doctors pledge to uphold certain ethical standards and do no harm makes instances of under treatment rampant among older cancer patients. Doctors under treat them because treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy have serious side effects. Such side effects are usually severe among older patients and in order to avoid them, doctors under treat elderly cancer patients. A U.K study of 101 oncologists found that 81% of them would prescribe chemotherapy to breast cancer patient aged 68. 48% of them would however not administer the same treatment to a patient aged 73. Most of them sited complications and issues brought by old age as the main reason for not administering chemotherapy to the 73 year old patient (Macmillan cancer support). Supporters for this argument argue that since statistically doctors are prone to under treat older patients it okay not treat them at all.
Most doctors lack basic knowledge regarding elderly care. Doctors are not trained to know the best care suited for elderly cancer patients and it makes it hard for the doctor to deliver his services efficiently. Also a doctor may administer cancer treatment but with no proper care and support of the elderly patient, the treatment may be interfered with
Supporters for this argument have also claimed that instead of concentrating on cancer treatment, older people should concentrate on their lives. They should be more focused on the quality of their short term life and be able to enjoy it, than rather be focused on the cancer treatment process. The cancer treatment is a long tiring and demanding process that is emotionally, physically and financially draining. An elderly person should enjoy his life rather than be caught up in torments of cancer treatment.
Practical issues affecting elderly cancer patients
Financial strains. Cancer treatment is a very costly medical process. It is drains a lot, financially. Most old cancer patients are retired and they lack the financial security that comes with being employed. Without a sufficient insurance cover and necessary financial support, an old cancer patient will find it hard to meet the financial demands of cancer treatment.
Physical limitations. Old people usually have problems that limit their physical abilities such as mobility. Such limitations may affect an individuals other areas of life such as personal hygiene. With such complications, an old cancer patient is more disadvantaged as compared to a younger one.
Loss of independence. Cancer treatment coupled with old age may make one be in no position to carry out tasks such eating, bathing, cleaning or even cooking. Having to transition from self-dependency to depending on others even for the most basic things in life may be overwhelming. In a situation where there are no family members, an old cancer patient may not have any person to take of him or her.
Isolation. Old cancer patients, especially those with no family members may feel socially isolated and this may lead to lead to depression. Feelings of depression may interfere with the cancer treatment.
Adoption of improved assessment methods. Doctors and medical practitioners should use better assessment methods when checking patients. When deciding whether or not to administer cancer treatment, age should not be one of the factors. Proper medical examinations should be carried before diagnosing patients.
Training of medical practitioners. Doctors and medical personnel should be given relevant training on age discrimination in relation to cancer treatment. Attitudes towards age should be eliminated so as not to influence a doctors decision or cause of action. They should also be trained on adult care and better support systems.
More research should be carried into cancer treatments for the elderly. More resources should be allocated into the scientific research of cancer treatment for the elderly. Its effectiveness and side effects should be well known. A clear way of administering cancer treatment for the elderly should be identified. Older people should also be included in clinical trials and experiments.
Offering of more and practical support to elderly people with cancer. Support services, such as transportation should be availed to the elderly people with cancer. As discussed earlier, due to their old age, they are physically limited to perform some tasks and this causes them to have a low tolerance to stress. As such they should offered support services to reduce their stress to only that brought about by cancer treatment.
Need for better innovations. Innovation should be encouraged especially innovations in services relating to the treatment of elderly cancer patients. New and better services offered to the older cancer patients in clinics and hospitals need to be i...
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