[PDF] Exploring the attitudes and behaviours of older people living with cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support
Ipsos MORI;Macmillan Cancer Support
Publication date:
01 August 2015


This study identifies a range of attitudes and perceptions which shape the way that older people access cancer services, influencing when and how they seek help, as well as the outcomes they experience. The findings are based on two online panel surveys of 1,004 adults aged 55 and over living with cancer and 500 adults of the same age range who have never had a cancer diagnosis. In addition, fieldwork was undertaken and 26 in-depth interviews with people aged 55 and over living with cancer and two focus groups with older people who have never had cancer carried out. A number of key themes emerge from the research, including: there are differences in the views of older people with cancer and those who have not been diagnosed with cancer, with those with direct experience of the condition having more positive perceptions about it; some of the preconceptions that people may hold about older people’s attitudes have been challenged, for example, older people are no more likely to choose not to have treatment than younger people, and no more likely to be concerned about the consequences of having treatment; a series of misconceptions about the risk of cancer and eligibility for screening may impact upon early diagnosis efforts and should be addressed; older people are more likely than younger people to place trust in their health professionals but at the same time believe that discrimination against older people does exist (albeit not necessarily in their personal experience); nonetheless, older people say they are willing to seek help, but are not necessarily aware of the services that exist to support them. Independence matters to older people.