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Half of cancer cases in Belgium affect people 70 and over

Persons 70 and over now represent 13% of the total Belgian population, and yet, each year, approximately half of new cancer cases (46% or 31,053) are diagnosed within this age group, the Cancer Registry Foundation reveals in the new publication, “Cancer in an Ageing Population in Belgium 2004-2016.” According to the Foundation, the risk of cancer varies between men and women, and according to age. Thus, from 80 years onward, the risk for men is twice as high as for women.

 The three most common types of cancer for men are prostate, lung and colorectal. For women, they are breast, colorectal and lung cancer. This ranking is also true for people 70 and older. In 2016, these most common cancers accounted for more than half of the diagnosed cancers for both sexes (54%).

Between 2004 and 2016, the number of new cancers as of the age of 70 increased by 18% (from 26,361 to 31,053), due mainly to the aging of the population, the Cancer Registry Foundation says. Specifically, the overall risk of cancer for those aged 70 and over, shows a downward trend in men (-0.6% per year), mainly because of a decreased risk of prostate or lung cancer. However, for women aged 70 and older, this risk of cancer increases (+1.7% per year). This is mainly due to an increase in breast and smoking-related cancers, including lung cancer.

Survival is slightly lower for the elderly, due particularly to their fragility and depending on the type of tumor.

However, this group’s survival results, as for the younger generation, also show a positive evolution in time. For example, a five-year survival from colorectal cancer has increased by 4.5% during the last 10 years, thanks to improved diagnostic techniques and strategies, and to the effectiveness of treatments.

Today, we count more than 160,000 elderly who are still alive after having been diagnosed with cancer in the last 10 years. This represents 11% of people 70 and older.

The Brussels Times