Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and will kill more than 50,000 people this year. A major risk factor for colon cancer is age, with more than 90% of cases occurring in people 50 years and older. Unfortunately, clinical evidence suggests that colon cancer patients 65 and older are not always getting the best disease management. However, a recent survey commissioned by the Alliance for Aging Research shows that caregivers play an important role in disease management and can have a major positive impact on disease outcomes.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, interviewed oncologists on the importance of caregivers for elderly colon cancer patients. 77% of physicians interviewed agree that colon cancer patients 65 and older experience better disease outcomes when a caregiver is involved because of better communication. 81% also said that they depend on caregivers at least somewhat, and some a great deal, to act as an intermediary between them and the elderly patients. 100% feel the caregiver is part of a team involved in the patient's disease management. The physicians felt that the primary roles of the caregivers are to provide emotional support, participate in doctor's visits and in disease management decisions, and to provide transportation to and from doctor's appointments. Unfortunately, only around 3 out of 5 colon cancer patients 65 and older have the support of a caregiver. To learn more about the survey, read the Key Survey Findings.
Miguel Ferrer, the star of Crossing Jordan, realizes the importance of active involvement by a caregiver. Miguel lost his father to colon cancer, and because of his experience joined forcse with the Alliance for Aging Research to encourage caregivers to get involved, ask the hard questions, and be a part of the process to ensure the best possible outcome. To learn more about this important collaboration, read the program press release Caregiver Involvement Can Have a Major Impact on Disease Outcomes for Colon Cancer Patients 65 and Older.
According to physicians interviewed, one of the most important roles that a caregiver plays in treatment is facilitating communications with doctors to make sure the right questions get asked. The Caring for the Aging Tip Sheet helps patients and caregivers ask the right questions.