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Older people’s experience of radiotherapy services

Louise Hogan ()
Anita O'Donovan ()


The highest prevalence of cancer is seen in the older population. With an increase in average life expectancy, the age demographics of cancer patients have also increased. Studies have shown that health professionals are often unaware of the fact that older patients present different needs as compared to younger patients. Radiotherapy departments may also lack the necessary facilities to cater for additional care and support for older patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the experience of elderly cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. A qualitative approach was used in this experimental research. One focus group (n = 4) and two individual interviews were conducted with participants who had previously undergone radiotherapy in Ireland. The question schedule investigated key areas of care: travelling to care, emotional difficulties, information needs, financial costs and follow-up care. A thematic long table method was used to analyse the data. Department delays, radiotherapy staff, car-parking, embarrassment and lack of self-confidence, information overload, as well as poor emphasis on support groups were the impact themes identified. One of the main issues identified was in relation to the timing of information and “information overload”. Further investigation is required to elucidate this area.


supportive care; prostate cancer; older patients; elderly; radiotherapy

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