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Statement on older people missing out on cancer surgery

05 Dec 2014

Commenting on research by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) on older people missing out on cancer surgery, Clare Marx President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:

 “Age alone must not be a reason for denying patients access to surgical opinion or treatment.   In the case of cancer, surgery is an effective treatment for many forms of the disease and leads to thousands of patients being cured.  The major consideration should always be their biological state rather than their age.

“This report highlights the need for more research to understand why some older patients are not being put forward for operations.  The current trends are worrying and point to similar findings published by the College earlier this year (in our report Access All Ages 2) which raised similar concerns about how we treat older people on the NHS.

“It is vital that those commissioning NHS services make it clear that patients who would benefit from surgery are referred for a clinical opinion and possible treatment, and that the system is transparent.    As the population ages, this will be a growing issue which no health service can afford to ignore.”


1.    The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.

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