We recommend cancer patients over 60 seek a second opinion before committing to conventional treatment. Being well informed is a smart survival strategy
One patient recently wrote to us, “I’m 77 & want to spend more years dancing with my lovely partner. Can I fight my cancer without severe side-effects? “
The answer is an emphatic yes: At the Grace Gawler Institute we draw on Grace’s 45 years experience helping patients navigate the gentle cancer maze.
Minimally Invasive Treatments: Over the last 3 decades Grace has referred patients to international cancer clinics where for example; they can access; cell-based immune therapy in combination with low dose chemotherapy & local hyperthermia.
These experiences have given Grace an in-depth knowledge of minimally invasive treatments mostly unknown to doctors in Australia & New Zealand.
Her global network of cancer networks affords better quality of life & longevity for patients; especially over 60’s who are well enough to travel. These treatments come highly recommended.
If any of these “age-related” issues ring true for you & you would like to organise a second opinion regarding your cancer treatment; please contact Grace
Over 60’s should weigh up potential Risks vs Benefits of Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy?
Factors that complicate cancer treatments in the over 60’s are:
- Physiological changes – not apparent in younger patients – thinning of skin and tissues, joint health, poor dental health, liver and kidney issues due to ageing etc
- Comorbidities – i.e. other illnesses e.g. cardiac, vascular, hormonal challenge, arthritis, dental etc
- Polypharmacy 1. – Mixtures of pharmaceuticals for various age associated conditions
- Polypharmacy 2. – Over 60’s who may have had a life-long medical condition or a series of lifelong medical conditions.
If you are over 60 with the above conditions & diagnosed with cancer; then lower doses of conventional cancer treatments may serve you better. As well as having other minimally invasive cancer treatments. Such treatments are also within the medical & scientific model but may not be offered to you as a first option.
Quality of Life and Well-being for over 60’s taking conventional treatments:
It must be taken into account that short term quality of life & ability to continue managing daily living activities may be more important for over 60’s than a modest survival chance when deciding whether to accept chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
If your oncologist is young(ish), they may not have taken into account that your age can make a difference to treatment outcomes. The area is still poorly researched; elderly or senior people are very underrepresented in clinical trials.
For example; if a 72-year-old patient depends on their social networks at the local Bowls/Golf clubs & side effects prevent them from partaking in activities, the impact can have huge psychological, emotional & physiological consequences.
We help our patients access precision or personalised cancer medicine which is genetically targeted reducing the need for one size fits all treatments for the over 60's
Grace Gawler, your cancer navigator, has had multiple life saving surgeries overseas that are still not available here.
A survivor thanks to overseas treatments: Patients are inspired to learn Grace has received overseas life-saving surgery herself (Netherlands 2002,3 & Singapore 2009, 14) when these options were not available in Australia. Fast forward to 2019 – the procedure is still not performed in Australia.
Treatment ethics for older patients. Lower dose chemotherapy proves as effective
Prof Ian Olver – Treatment ethics for older patients:
A patient will expect to be allowed to make an autonomous decision about chemotherapy (radiotherapy) but will be reliant on accurate information about the potential risks and benefits..” Click for full article by former chief executive officer of Cancer Council Australia Dr Ian Olver
Cancer Research UK – Less chemotherapy better for older patients with some advanced cancers…
Less chemotherapy is as effective at controlling disease for elderly or frail patients with advanced cancer of the stomach or oesophagus (food pipe), and leads to fewer side effects such as diarrhoea and lethargy. Results from the trial could change the standard of care for patients who can’t have full dose chemotherapy due to their age, frailty or medical fitness.
Cancer Research UK funded study, presented prior to the ASCO conference. Click for full article