This article challenges the idea that cancer cannot be prevented among older adults by examining different aspects of the relationship between age and cancer. Although the sequential patterns of aging cannot be changed, several age-related factors that contribute to disease risk can be. For most adults, age is coincidentally associated with preventable chronic conditions, avoidable exposures, and modifiable risk behaviors that are causally associated with cancer. Midlife is a period of life when the prevalence of multiple cancer risk factors is high and incidence rates begin to increase for many types of cancer. However, current evidence suggests that for most adults, cancer does not have to be an inevitable consequence of growing older. Interventions that support healthy environments, help people manage chronic conditions, and promote healthy behaviors may help people make a healthier transition from midlife to older age and reduce the likelihood of developing cancer. Because the number of adults reaching older ages is increasing rapidly, the number of new cancer cases will also increase if current incidence rates remain unchanged. Thus, the need to translate the available research into practice to promote cancer prevention, especially for adults at midlife, has never been greater.
Published by Elsevier Inc.