The "oldest old," individuals aged 85 and above, are the most
rapidly growing segment of American society. And although more than
a third of cancer occurs in people over 75 years of age, their
tumors are less fully diagnosed and often less fully treated than
those in younger patients. Ageism may account for this
discrepancy-why intervene if an older man or woman with cancer
doesn't have long to live anyway? Yet older people often tolerate
chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation as well as younger patients,
while continuing to maintain their quality of life for years to
The lack of clinical trials among this age group results in a
deficit of knowledge regarding how to treat cancer in older adults.
Little has been written to guide clinicians, social scientists,
families, and individuals. In Cancer in the Lives of Older
Americans: Blessings and Battles, Sarah H. Kagan writes from
the perspective of more than twenty years of practice, inquiry, and
education as a nurse. She uses anecdotes and case studies to
illustrate important points about cancer among older adults.
The book follows the story of Mrs. Eck, a woman in her 80s
diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Mrs. Eck's situation sets the
stage for a discussion of cancer, which too often focuses on cells
and drugs, diagnoses and prognoses without looking more closely at
the people who are experiencing the disease. Chapters offer varied
assessments of what it means to be old and have cancer in our
society, as Kagan explores other real experiences of cancer for
older adults alongside information that will prove essential to
patients, their families, scholars, and clinicians.
Subjects: Health Sciences
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