Growing older is the greatest cancer risk factor in humans in that the incidence of cancer increases with age. According the American Cancer Society, more than 80% of cancers are diagnosed in people aged 55 years and older.
The process of aging is deleterious to fitness. Each person ages at a different rate. It means that your actual age might not reflect your physiological age that represents your mental and physical health. It makes the process of aging complex.
Physiology Behind Aging And Its Relationship To Cancer:
Disease and disability that can impede the treatment of cancer and its recovery are more tending to take place in older adults. As the age progresses, the capability to accomplish daily activities declines. Or in other words, we can say that aging cells increase the risk of deadly cancer because:
- The aging process greatly contributes to low performance
- Inability to adapt to environmental changes
- Reduction in compensatory function (cellular repair is less effective in old adults)
- It transforms a healthy young adult into an older, unhealthy person who is susceptible to illness, injury and death.
Co-Morbid Conditions Promoting Illness or Cancer:
The serious health conditions that accompany process of aging and also set older patients with cancer apart from younger adults are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Kidney disease
When an old adult has these co-existing conditions in addition to cancer, affect the treatment selections and level of severity in treatment side-effects for cancer. It is very important for them to discuss their co-morbid conditions with their healthcare providers to be safe from any effect on their cancer treatment.
Major target organs Developing Cancer Due to Aging:
Age is a well-known risk factor for cancer types including:
It is because the longer we live, the most cancer-causing faults we accumulate in our DNA. Researchers explain that the wear and tear of the human body increase the genetic abnormality.
Hundreds of years ago, our life expectancy was short. People died in middle age from infectious diseases, death in childbirth or childhood was prevalent, and cancer was mainly a disease of the elderly. It is not surprising that cancer was rare in that time when people were unlikely to survive past 40 years of age.
Cancer Affecting Old Adults:
Due to the weak immune system in old adults, they get more prone to infections and diseases. Cancer, on the other hand, that affects disproportionately older adults results in considerable health consequences. Cancer mortality aggravates as the age progresses. Older men in all age groups were found to have higher cancer mortality rates than women.
Older people suffering from cancer have more emotional and practical concerns than young adults:
- Independence: Cancer treatments interfere with their ability to eat and do work independently. To depend on others for daily living makes them feel overwhelmed.
- Social Isolation: Many older adults lose their family members and spouse because of their disease. It leads to depression and anxiety that interfere with their cancer treatment.
- Financial Problems: It gets difficult for older adults to manage the finances of their cancer treatment as they have retired from their jobs at that stage of life. Hence, they should be guided towards the cancer cost care support.
- Physical Limitations: The medical problems they face leaves them to be limited in their mobility and daily activities. Creating a safe environment in their home can make life easy for them and decrease the chance of any fall.
Regardless of age, you can take charge of your health. Be vigilant regarding health monitoring through check up, stay up-to-date with self-examination, get annual clinical tests. Consult with your doctor for advice regarding preventive measures that you can consider.