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Ageism and its clinical impact in oncogeriatry: state of knowledge and therapeutic leads

Authors Schroyen S, Adam S, Jerusalem G, Missotten P

Received 10 July 2014

Accepted for publication 29 August 2014

Published 31 December 2014 Volume 2015:10 Pages 117—125


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Sarah Schroyen,1 Stéphane Adam,1 Guy Jerusalem,2,3 Pierre Missotten1

1University of Liège, Psychology of Aging Unit, 2University of Liège, Laboratory of Medical Oncology, 3CHU Sart Tilman Liege, Department of Medical Oncology, Liège, Belgium

Abstract: Cancer is a major health problem that is widespread in elderly people. Paradoxically, older people suffering from cancer are often excluded from clinical trials and are undertreated when compared to younger patients. One explanation for these observations is age stigma (ie, stereotypes linked to age, and thus ageism). These stigmas can result in deleterious consequences for elderly people’s mental and physical health in “normal” aging. What, then, is the impact in a pathological context, such as oncology? Moreover, health care professionals’ attitudes can be tainted with ageism, thus leading to undesirable consequences for patients. To counter these stigmas, we can apply some possible interventions emerging from research on normal aging and from social psychology, such as intergenerational contact, activation of positive stereotypes, self-affirmation, and so on; these tools can improve opinions of aging among the elderly people themselves, as well as health care professionals, thus affecting patients’ mental and physical health.

Keywords: oncogeriatry, clinical approaches, stigmatization, ageism

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