Cancer in the elderly: An international overview

Baruch Modan, Merav Barr, Angela Chetrit, Shimon Etlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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 oldest-old category. This pattern is present primarily 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1006
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • ageing
  • incidence
  • mortality


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