Persons 65 years of age and older bear the greatest burden of cancer; 55% of all malignancies occur in this age group. Sixty-seven percent of all cancer deaths occurred in this population in 1988. This article describes the magnitude of the cancer problem for this age group according to major cancers (colon, rectum, lung/bronchus, pancreas, stomach, urinary bladder, breast, and prostate). Data are cast against the demographics of aging in the United States. These facts emphasize an urgent need to concentrate more attention on problems unique to the elderly for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Information gaps are also identified.