Moffitt's senior oncology program saving dedicated to saving lives at any age

It doesn't make as many headlines as some other cancer programs, but for 78-year-old Patsy Cline, the senior oncology program at Moffitt Cancer Center is a lifesaver.

"They're amazing here with their knowledge and research," says the retired high school teacher from Sarasota.

She was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer two years ago and has been receiving treatment at Moffitt since January.

Her oncologist, Dr. Martine Extermann, is the chairperson of senior oncology. She says early in her career she noticed cancer researchers often overlooked older people.

"And we said, 'This has to change. Half of the cancers happen beyond the age of 70. We have to find treatments for people above 70,"  Dr. Extermann said.

Extermann's research looks at how cancer can be treated concurrently with other diseases. She says doctors should treat people as individuals based on their physical condition rather than their chronological age.

Pharmacist Jody Simon helped start the Geriatric Oncology Consortium after his father battled cancer.

"We have an aging population. The incidents of cancer is going up dramatically. Over the next dozen years or so, we're going to be seeing a better than 65% increase of cancer," says Simon. 

Moffitt's senior oncology program was the first in the nation and they've built a large database that's now paying off for patients like Cline.

"They've been phenomenal. Look at the results," smiles Cline.

Doctors say she's living proof that cancer can be treated at any age.