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July 1, 1992

The Treatment of Cancer in an Aging Population

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Medical Oncology, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 1992;268(1):96-97. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490010098037

America is aging. The demographic data to support this statement are convincing and compelling.1 At present, the population aged 55 years and older is over one fifth of the total population. By 2010, one fourth of the total US population (74.1 million persons) is projected to be at least 55 years old; one in seven Americans will be 65 years or older (39.3 million) and the number of persons aged 85 years and older will be 2.4% of the total population (6.8 million). Within the over-65 group, the most rapidly growing subgroup is the "oldest old" (those over 85 years old).

Cancer is a disease that affects primarily older persons.2 As our aging population increases in size, the incidence of cancer will rise. The growing elderly population will show a greater prevalence of cancer. Over half of all cancer is diagnosed in those over the age of 65