Cancer is a concern for people of all ages but the disease is especially prevalent in the elderly. Research has shown that more than 60% of new cancers are diagnosed in individuals who are 65 years or older. Older adults are more likely to develop cancer even if no one in their families have had it.
Common Cancer Cases in Seniors.
For older adults, some of the most common cancer cases diagnosed are the:
- Lung Cancer: Eighty percent or more of all cases are in adults over the age of sixty.
- Bladder Cancer: Seventy percent or more of all cases are men between the ages of fifty and eighty.
- Breast Cancer: Eighty percent of all breast cancer occurs in women over fifty and sixty percent are found in women over sixty five years.
- Prostate Cancer: Half of all cases are in men over the age of seventy five.
Warning Signs or Symptoms of Cancer in Seniors
Early detection and recognizing certain warning signs are important factors those caring for older adults need to be aware of.
The warning signs or symptoms of the cancer cases in older adults mentioned above includes:
- Lung Cancer: Elderly patients will experience intense and ongoing coughing, chest pain (caused by coughing), breathing difficulty, chronic pneumonia, feeling tired or weak, loss of appetite, voice hoarseness etc.
- Bladder Cancer: Elderly patients will experience frequent urination, blood in urine, burning sensation while urinating.
- Breast Cancer: Changes in the feel or appearance of the breasts. For example- wonky breast, lump in the breasts or its surrounding, nipple discharge other than breast milk, pain in the nipple area etc.
- Prostate Cancer: Burning or pain during urination, difficulty in urinating, frequent urges to urinate at night, loss of bladder control, pain or stiffness in the hips, lower back or upper thighs. Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream, etc.
Treating Cancer in Seniors
Cancer treatment can be more challenging and complicated for older adults. It affects older adults in different ways and treatment varies and is applied, depending on the stage of the cancer and existing comorbidities.
- Lung Cancer: Treatment is appropriate for older adults at any stage of lung cancer. Treatment includes surgery, stereotactic body radio therapy (SBRT), radio frequency ablation, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, etc.
- Bladder Cancer: Depending on the stage of the cancer and other factors, treatment options can include-bladder cancer surgery, intravesical therapy for bladder cancer, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.
- Breast Cancer: Breast cancer can be treated using the following methods- surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy, and lymph node dissection), chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, etc.
- Prostate Cancer: Based on an aged patient’s clinical performance and other factors such as existing comorbidities, aged patients might require treatments like- surgery, focal therapies, systemic therapy, radiation treatment, targeted treatments, hormonal therapy etc.
Cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects as well as emotional, social and financial effects and it is important that elderly patients are helped to manage these effects through palliative/ supportive care.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage and Prevent Cancer in Seniors
To improve or boost treatment, prevent cancer recurrence and avoid infections, older patients need to make changes in their lifestyles. Some of which includes:
- Lung Cancer: Quit smoking, supportive therapies (e. g oxygen therapy, speech therapy and supportive devices), reduce risks of infection (by keeping a good hygiene, avoid touching the eyes, mouth and nose, etc.), make dietary changes, exercise regularly, manage fatigue and seeking the support of others etc.
- Bladder Cancer: Staying properly hydrated, eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine, keeping a healthy weight by exercising regularly, avoiding constipation, etc.
- Breast Cancer: Being physically active, avoiding smoking or intake of too much alcohol, eating healthy, keeping weight in check, etc.
- Prostate Cancer: Choosing a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, taking natural supplements, reducing stress, etc.
Nowadays, cancer death rates in the elderly are decreasing and the chances of surviving cancer are better than ever before – thanks to the possibilities brought by scientific and technological developments.
We at Strong Tower Home Care Services LLC, are committed to helping individuals lead a healthy life and manage existing health conditions. With us, hope is given a chance.