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National Cancer Institute

Projecting the Burden of Cancer Survivorship: Individual and Societal

Presentation 3: Economic Viability of the Cancer Survivor: Implications for Employment

Rosemary Yancik, Ph.D.
Health Sciences Administrator
Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program
National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

  • Cancer occurs most frequently in those aged 65 and older. Increases in life expectancies will result in more and more Americans in this category, and therefore higher rates of cancer incidence in the U.S. population.
  • Compared with the general population, more older adult cancer survivors tend to be in poorer health (30 percent versus 10 percent of the general population), have two or more chronic conditions (12 percent versus 5 percent), have functional limitations (nearly 60 percent versus under 30 percent), and have activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) limitations (10 percent versus 4 percent).
  • The elderly are more likely to have other illnesses along with cancer, including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, heart-related diseases, previous cancers, and stroke. Their physical and psychological health is more likely to suffer during the course of cancer treatment.
  • More than 40 percent of breast cancer patients aged 85 and older are likely to have one or more other health problems; nearly 30 percent of those aged 65-69 are likely to have severe additional health problems, compared with less than 15 percent of those aged 55-59 years. Hypertension is the most common health problem suffered by the elderly with cancer.
  • The elderly face unique caregiver issues because adult children may be unable to provide adequate care, and primary caregivers (spouses) also may have serious health problems, affecting adequacy and quality-of-care.

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