Study: Growing population of cancer survivors means more preparation needed by providers

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The number of cancer survivors over the age of 65 is expected to increase by about 42% over the next 10 years, which could present new challenges to the healthcare community, study results show.

Cancer is perceived mostly as a disease of aging, but as medical interventions advance, providers need to be ready for yet another powerful effect from aging baby boomers, researchers from the National Cancer Institute said.

Investigators analyzed data on cancer survivorship from the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program and found that for the last year that data was available (2008), 60% of the cancer survivors were at least 65 years old. Projections show this number will jump to 63% by 2020.

Some view it as a good problem to have.

"We may be fortunate in that the aging population is healthier than in previous generations, and new technologies could allow for better communication and follow-up," said study author Julia Rowland, Ph.D.

The study was published in the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.