Cancer may have a negative impact on both the physical and mental health of individuals as they age, indicates a new study, suggesting that cancer increases the risk for certain health issues above and beyond normal aging.
It may be partly due to decreased physical activity and stress associated with diagnosis and treatment. The findings showed that cancer patients demonstrated greater declines in activities of daily living and physical function, with the greatest change happening in lung cancer patients.
"Decreased physical functioning among older cancer patients compared with older adults without cancer is an important finding for clinicians because it is also actionable," said one of the researchers Corinne Leach from the American Cancer Society in the US. Also, having a cancer diagnosis increased risk for depression in the elderly.
"This prospective analysis used a propensity score matched control group to cancer cases that enabled us to tease apart the effects of cancer and ageing in a novel way," Leach noted. As the population of older adults grows, it is increasingly important for clinicians to understand the unique impact of cancer on the health of individuals as they age. "Clinicians need to prepare patients and families for this change in functioning levels and provide interventions that preserve physical function to limit the declines for older cancer patients," Leach said.