Seventy percent of people with cancer in Australia are over 65 years of age.
Almost 60% of people who are 65 years or older also have at least two other co-morbidities, that is, significant long lasting (chronic) health conditions such as heart disease, lung and breathing disorders, diabetes, dementia and mental health conditions.
Many people have a longstanding relationship with a GP who knows them well and understands their circumstances and health conditions.
However this is not the case for everyone. Following a diagnosis of cancer, or any other serious illness, if you don’t already have a GP it is important that you see a GP.
Cancer treatments can disrupt the management of a chronic illness and chronic illnesses can complicate cancer treatments. Cancer can therefore be more complicated for older people.
Your GP has a good understanding of any chronic health conditions you have alongside your cancer diagnosis, and will be able to watch and manage any complications that may make coping with your cancer treatment more difficult.
Your GP is an important contact for your cancer team
Good GPs co-ordinate your healthcare. They are the main contact for all of your health conditions and so are a source of information for your cancer team. This is especially important if your care is spread across more than one hospital.
Sometimes GPs do not receive enough information at the right time about your care and treatment from the hospital. This makes it difficult for your GP to support you as much as they could. Let your cancer team know that it’s important to you that your GP is kept informed and up to date about what’s happening to you.