Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at giving extra support for older people having chemotherapy (CESP)
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This study looked at a practical programme to support people over 70 years old who are having chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy has some side effects, like all medicines. It is difficult to predict who is likely to have side effects, but older people are more at risk than younger people and may cope with chemotherapy less well. Fewer older people seem to have chemotherapy, either because their doctor may not be keen to prescribe it, or the older person may not be keen to have it.
This pilot study looked at a practical support programme for older people having chemotherapy. The team looked at how acceptable this programme is and how well it works.
The aims of this study were to see if older people wish to have extra practical support when they have chemotherapy, and what kinds of support are useful.
Summary of results
The research team found that about 1 in 2 people were happy to accept extra support, and that they found this support helpful.
This study recruited 105 people who were over 70 years old and due to have chemotherapy. They had a number of different cancers including breast, lung, bowel and prostate cancer.
Everyone taking part was offered some extra support from Age UK, and 59 people (56%) accepted the extra support. This was lower than the research team had expected. They wondered if that was because the people taking part already had some level of extra support from the research team as part of being in the study. Or perhaps they already had a lot of support at home.
The support from Age UK included a variety of things, such as
- Help with shopping or getting to appointments
- Help filling out forms or doing admin
- Information about other organisations that could help
- General information and advice
The feedback about the support was very positive, and benefits included
- Increased independence
- Decreased feelings of isolation
- Feeling more able to complete treatment
The research team concluded that more than half of people over 70 years old who were having chemotherapy were happy to accept extra support. And they found this support helpful.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the study. As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Alistair Ring
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Macmillan Cancer Support
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer