Cancer-Incidence, prevalence and mortality in the oldest-old. A comprehensive review

Mech Ageing Dev. 2017 Jun;164:113-126. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2017.05.002. Epub 2017 May 11.


Chronic health conditions are commonplace in older populations. The process of aging impacts many of the world's top health concerns. With the average life expectancy continuing to climb, understanding patterns of morbidity in aging populations has become progressively more important. Cancer is an age-related disease, whose risk has been proven to increase with age. Limited information is published about the epidemiology of cancer and the cancer contribution to mortality in the 85+ age group, often referred to as the oldest-old. In this review, we perform a comprehensive assessment of the most recent (2011-2016) literature on cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality in the oldest-old. The data shows cancer prevalence and cancer incidence increases until ages 85-89, after which the rates decrease into 100+ ages. However the number of overall cases has steadily increased over time due to the rise in population. Cancer mortality continues to increase after age 85+. This review presents an overview of plausible associations between comorbidity, genetics and age-related physiological effects in relation to cancer risk and protection. Many of these age-related processes contribute to the lowered risk of cancer in the oldest-old, likewise other certain health conditions may "protect" from cancer in this age group.

Keywords: Ageing; Cancer incidence; Cancer mortality; Neurodegeneration; Oldest-old.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors