Epidemiology of cancer in the elderly. Current status and projections for the future

Rays. Jan-Mar 1997;22(1 Suppl):3-9.


This paper provides an epidemiologic overview for the international conference, "Problems of Treatment of Cancer in the Elderly," Rome, Italy. The current cancer burden in the elderly and demographic situation and what can be anticipated in coming decades is profiled for the United States with data from epidemiologic perspective of cancer and aging. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), Geriatrics Program is promoting interest in integrating aging and cancer research. In the United States, the cancer burden of the elderly is high and has increased over time. Currently, 60% of all malignant tumors occur in the age group 65 years and older, 69% of all cancer deaths are in this age group. As the U.S. population ages, the needs for cancer control will continue to increase. The age segment of the U.S. population is 2.5% (31.1 million). Based on current projections by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, by 2030, one in five Americans will be 65+, reflecting a proportion of 20.1% of the total population (70.2 million persons). The paper describes cancer in the elderly, now and in the future, emphasizing several pertinent issues, the comorbidity burden of cancer patients, the impact of the expansion of the aged segment of the U.S. population over time, and cancer prevalence. Briefly mentioned, also, are two recent research announcements initiated by the NIA and cosponsored by the NCI and other NIH Institutes, "Aging Women and Breast Cancer", and "Aging, Race, and Ethnicity in Prostate Cancer".

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology