Background: Identifying older people affected by cancer who are more at risk of negative health outcomes is a major issue in health initiatives focusing on medical effectiveness. In this regard, psychological risk factors such as patients' perception of their own aging and cancer could be used as indicators to improve customization of cancer care. We hypothesize that more negative self-perception of aging (SPA) and view of cancer could be linked to worse physical and mental health outcomes in cancer patients.
Methods: One hundred one patients diagnosed with cancer (breast, gynecological, lung or hematological) were followed for 1 year. They were evaluated on four occasions (baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months after the baseline). Their SPA, view of cancer and health (physical and mental) were assessed at each time of evaluation.
Results: Negative SPA and/or view of cancer at baseline are associated with negative evolution of patients' physical and mental health. Moreover, when the evolution of SPA and cancer view were taken into account, these two stigmas are still linked with the evolution of mental health. In comparison, only a negative evolution of SPA was linked to worse physical health outcomes.
Conclusions: Such results indicate that SPA and view of cancer could be used as markers of vulnerability in older people with cancer.