Ageism and its clinical impact in oncogeriatry: state of knowledge and therapeutic leads

Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Dec 31:10:117-25. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S70942. eCollection 2015.


Cancer is a major health problem that is widespread in elderly people. Paradoxically, older people suffering from cancer are often excluded from clinical trials and are undertreated when compared to younger patients. One explanation for these observations is age stigma (ie, stereotypes linked to age, and thus ageism). These stigmas can result in deleterious consequences for elderly people's mental and physical health in "normal" aging. What, then, is the impact in a pathological context, such as oncology? Moreover, health care professionals' attitudes can be tainted with ageism, thus leading to undesirable consequences for patients. To counter these stigmas, we can apply some possible interventions emerging from research on normal aging and from social psychology, such as intergenerational contact, activation of positive stereotypes, self-affirmation, and so on; these tools can improve opinions of aging among the elderly people themselves, as well as health care professionals, thus affecting patients' mental and physical health.

Keywords: ageism; clinical approaches; oncogeriatry; stigmatization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ageism* / prevention & control
  • Ageism* / psychology
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Patient Selection
  • Stereotyping