A study from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research has found many older adults are hesitant to halt cancer screenings even when the screenings may no longer be beneficial or may even be potentially harmful.
The study is among the first to explore older adults' perceptions of recommendations to halt screenings for breast, prostate, colon, and other cancers as they age.
The researchers reported many older adults feel a strong moral obligation to continue cancer screenings and that a physician’s recommendation to stop screening might threaten trust in the doctor or motivate the patient to seek a second opinion.
Participants, ranging in age from 63 to 90, were skeptical about hearing government panel recommendations and statistics that show older adults may not benefit from certain screening tests. Many expressed distrust of the government or felt statistics did not apply to them.
For more info, see Torke, A.M. et al. (2013). Older adults and forgoing cancer screening: “I think it would be strange.” JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(7), 526-531.