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Cancer in the elderly

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The objective of this study was to assess the patterns of cancer incidence of elderly populations on a geographic and ethnic basis. Internationally published incidence data was used to characterize the status of cancer in the elderly in selected world locations. Cancer sites reviewed are those common in the elderly. Incidence data was measured as published by the International Agency for Research Against Cancer and in appropriate statistical tests. The results indicate that the Western societies have a consistently higher proportion of cancer patients who are 65 and older, even when controlling for the age distribution factor. Also, the male/female ratio in the elderly is high due mainly to a relatively earlier occurrence of gynecological cancer. Three patterns characterizing a differentially retarding pattern of cancer incidence with age were found: i) a continuous increase, with some slowing pace of growth in the US and other Western countries. ii) a peak in the 75-79 age category followed by a decline. This is noted in less prosperous European populations, like the former Eastern Bloc countries. iii) a plateau, seen in developing countries like India or Gambia. Non-etiologic factors contributing to international cancer distribution variations among the elderly may include quality and frequency of diagnostic work-up. This is largely a reflection of a nation's healthcare system, as well as its social norms vis-a-vis the elderly. The positive global ageing trend promises increased cancer incidence and prevalence, and the need for greater resource allocation for the care of elderly cancer patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1996

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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