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July 1998

Brain Tumors in the Elderly: Undefeated and Gaining Ground

Arch Neurol. 1998;55(7):905-906. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.7.905

OVER THE LAST decades, cancer registries in many developed countries (Italy, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, France, Canada, the United States, and others1-3) have reported a substantial increase in the rate of occurrence of brain cancer, particularly in the elderly. The increase preceded and has persisted after the introduction of brain imaging in the 1970s. In Connecticut, comparing the periods of 1935-1949 and 1950-1964, the average annual incidence rates per 100000 for gliomas doubled for all age groups together.4 In the United States in 1985, incidence rates for individuals aged 70 and 79 years, 80 and 84 years, and 85 years and older were 187%, 394%, and 501%, respectively, of rates in 1973-1974.5 In another study6 examining the period of 1968-1988, the average annual percentage change in incidence was 0.25% for the population aged 65 to 74 years, 10% in those aged 75 to 84 years, and 40% in those aged 85 years and older. In France between 1983 and 1990, the annual incidence of malignant astrocytoma increased by 5% per year.3 In Florida, comparing the periods of 1981-1984 and 1986-1989, the incidence of brain tumors increased by 0.35% in those aged 20 to 64 years, 15% in those 65 to 69 years, 16% in those 70 to 74 years, 30% in those 75 to 79 years, 36% in those 80 to 84 years, and 254% in those 85 years and older.7

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