13 March 2014,

Senior Woman Being Served Meal By CarerOne of the words that family members never want to hear after their elderly loved one visits the doctor is ‘cancer.’  While cancer seems to be all too common, that doesn’t always mean that it’s a good idea for an elderly individual to be screened for all types of cancer as younger individuals are.  When someone requires senior care, are there certain types of cancers that they shouldn’t be screened?  Are there others that they should be screened for on a regular basis?

Ultimately, medical professionals who assess the patient’s medical history and potential risk for certain types of cancer determine the screening process.  If your mother’s doctor is requesting that she be screened for breast cancer every year, then this could indicate that she is at a higher risk level for having this type of cancer.  If your father smokes and has been a smoker for much of his life, then he is at a higher risk of contracting lung cancer and his doctor may recommend screening for this on a regular basis.

However, there is one type of cancer in particular that is generally not recommended for regular screenings as it is for people who are in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s.  This cancer is colon cancer.

There reason why the medical community now deems this type of screening to be not recommended for certain elderly individuals, especially those who require some form of senior care service, is that there is an increased risk of complication from the procedure itself.  The risk of a problem during the procedure becomes more significant the older an individual becomes and the prognosis for treatment for men and women as they get older diminishes.

The general consensus within the medical community is that any individual who is advanced in years (usually over 70) and whose life expectancy is less than a decade at that point, shouldn’t go through colonoscopies any longer, unless there may be certain telltale signs that they could have this form of cancer.  Preventive screening is basically riskier to the patient’s health than not doing anything at all.

If you have any concerns about cancer screening for an elderly loved one who may or may not require senior care at this time in his or her life, speak with a medical professional to be certain that your loved one is receiving the best care and advice possible when it comes to cancer and screening.

For more information about how the caregivers at La Jolla Nurses Homecare can help your aging parents remain living independently in their own homes, call 858-454-9339. We are an elder agency providing quality and affordable senior care in Coronado CA, and the surrounding communities.