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Tips on improving cancer survival rates

  1. Provide a supportive home environment

  2. Create a loving and supportive home environment for elderly cancer patients suffering from depression. Ensure they take the prescribed depression medications and do not live in social isolation. Caregivers should take time to listen to and talk with the elderly patient.

  3. Ensure proper nutrition

    The loss of teeth coupled with difficulties in chewing and swallowing, as well as a loss of appetite, taste and smell caused by cancer treatments, will affect the ability of elderly cancer patients to maintain good nutritional health.

    Prepare frequent, but small and well-balanced meals, to make eating more manageable. Include soft foods and healthy smoothies made of yogurt, fruits or vegetables to make swallowing easier for elderly cancer patients.

  4. Take an active role in the treatment process

  5. Elderly cancer patients with severe cognitive impairment, such as dementia, are totally dependent on their caregivers to make the “right” treatment decisions. They are less able to articulate the symptoms of the disease or treatment side effects, and need help to follow through with the treatment schedule. Caregivers should learn about possible treatment toxicities and provide elderly cancer patients with emotional and physical support throughout the treatment period.

  6. Ensure elderly cancer patients get regular exercise ​

    Encourage elderly cancer patients with difficulties in performin​​g normal daily activities to exercise regularly or seek physical rehabilitation to improve their strength and mobility. Cancer patients who exercise have better survival rates.

“Caring for elderly cancer patients can be very challenging. While it is important for caregivers to have patience, compassion and understanding, it is equally important to avoid caregiver burnout. Caregivers should give themselves respite from constant care-giving,” Dr Ravindran Kanes​varan​, from the Department of Medical On​​cology at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)​, a member of the SingHe​​alth group, advises.


​Ref: P16