Older people and cancer

Nearly two thirds of cancer diagnoses occur in the over 65s and one third in people aged 75 and over. By 2020 there will be nearly two million people aged 65 and over alive following a diagnosis of cancer.

Therefore we need to critically assess our cancer services to ensure that they are meeting the needs of older people – the very people most likely to need them.

It is important to stress that the needs of all older people are not the same. Type of cancer, socio-economic status, gender and ethnicity all play a role in shaping people’s needs and outcomes. Equally the needs of active older people in otherwise good health will be very different from those of people living with frailty and other health conditions.

The PHE National Cancer Intelligence Network and NHS England Older People and Cancer report brings together information from different sources and studies. It shows a mixed picture. This report – a product of many organisations’ efforts – is an important contribution which sets a baseline as we seek to improve cancer outcomes for older people. The evidence in this report suggests that, although we get a lot right, there is substantial scope for improvement.

Data has been reviewed and the files on this page were amended as per June 2015.

Older people report  - ( Version 3.0 - reissued June 2015)