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Aging and Cancer | What Seniors Need to Know | Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated: May 9

Aging and Cancer
Aging and Cancer

Cancer is a disease that can affect individuals of all ages, but it is more commonly diagnosed in the elderly population. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 60% of all cancer cases are found in people aged 65 and above. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for cancer in elders.

Causes of Cancer in Elders

Cancer primarily arises from mutations in the DNA within cells. These mutations can be inherited or acquired over time, often due to exposure to environmental factors like tobacco smoke, radiation, and certain chemicals. Elders are particularly vulnerable to cancer due to their weakened immune systems and the accumulation of genetic mutations over the years.

Symptoms of Cancer in Elders

The symptoms of cancer in elderly individuals can vary based on the type and stage of cancer. Common signs to watch for include:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Pain

  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Persistent coughing or hoarseness

  • Skin changes such as yellowing or darkening

  • Non-healing sores

It's crucial to note that some elders with cancer may not experience any noticeable symptoms.

Various types of cancer can affect the elderly, with some of the most prevalent ones being.

Types of Cancer in Elders

Various types of cancer can affect the elderly, with some of the most prevalent ones being:

Breast cancer:

The most frequent cancer among women aged 65 and above.

Prostate cancer:

The leading cancer in men aged 65 and above.

Lung cancer:

The primary cause of cancer-related deaths in both elderly men and women.

Colorectal cancer:

The third most common cancer in this age group.

Skin cancer:

More prevalent among elders due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Treatment of Cancer in Elders

The choice of treatment for cancer in the elderly depends on factors such as cancer type, stage, overall health, and personal preferences. Common treatment options include:


The removal of the tumor and adjacent tissue.

Radiation therapy:

High-energy radiation used to eliminate cancer cells.


The use of drugs to target cancer cells.


Mobilizing the body's immune system to combat cancer cells.

It's essential to understand that certain elderly individuals may not be able to tolerate specific treatments due to their age or overall health.


Cancer is a serious condition that can significantly impact the elderly population. While it can be challenging to diagnose and treat, early detection can substantially enhance outcomes. If you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms of cancer, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider promptly.


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