5 Most Common Cancers Affecting the Elderly

The risk of cancer increases greatly with age, but your senior can understand and recognize the causes, risk factors and symptoms of the disease early on. With early understanding, the likelihood of survival is much greater. The five most common forms of cancer in seniors are seen below.


Home Health Care in Markham: Common Forms Of Cancer

Home Health Care in Markham: Common Forms Of Cancer


Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells from masses or tumors in the lungs. It affects lung function, causing serious, painful symptoms. Early diagnosis can improve survival rates to over 50%, though it is rarely diagnosed at an early stage. Cigarette smoking is typically the most common cause of lung cancer, there are many other causes, including smoking pipes and cigars, submission to tobacco smoke, exposure to asbestos, and genetic or family history of lung cancer.

Many seniors smoked during a period before America took steps to inspire quitting. Smoking was traditional for decades. No matter what factors may help diagnose lung cancer, symptoms include chest pain, chronic cough, wheezing, loss of breath, and bone pain. There is a chance of no symptoms at all. While this is uncommon, it’s crucial that seniors know the risk factors of cancer, and get screenings regularly.


Colon Cancer

Colon cancer includes the development of abnormal cells in the colon or rectum, occurring 90% of the time in seniors over 50. Understanding symptoms is most helpful because diagnosis at an early stage can bring cure rates up to 95% if it is found in stage one. While causes and risk factors are not completely known, some include age, diet, type 2 diabetes, genetic history, and Crohn’s disease.

Due to the largely genetic and uncontrolled risk of colon cancer, it’s important that seniors understand the symptoms of the disease, increasing the likelihood that they will catch it in its early stage. Your senior should watch out for symptoms such as constant pain in the abdomen, blood in the stool, severe weight loss, constipation, or regular diarrhea. Because of the likelihood that seniors are diagnosed with colon cancer, regular colonoscopies are recommended in individuals over the age of 50.


Stomach Cancer

Stomach, or gastric, cancer, includes abnormal cells form a mass in the stomach. About 60% of those diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 60, so recognition of symptoms and causes is important in your seniors. Survival rate increases with early diagnosis, with most risk factors and causes including genetics (Asian and South American decent most common), family history, smoking, a diet high in meat or processed foods, and drinking a lot of alcohol.

Recognizing symptoms early is crucial, but stomach cancer is rarely caught in the early stages, decreasing the chances of survival. Common symptoms include weight loss, appetite loss, blood in the stool, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or jaundice. The ability to recognize these symptoms early on will increase the likelihood of the individual recovering from the disease.


Breast Cancer

The abnormal cells of breast cancer have the potential to spread to the surrounding tissue. Both men and women can be diagnosed with breast cancer, including over 80% of breast cancer diagnoses in women over 50. Therefore, it is very important for seniors to be aware of the causes of the disease, potentially genetics, family history, obesity, and high alcohol intake. Although scientists and researchers have not completely defined these causes and risk factors, knowing symptoms is even more important.

In order to diagnose breast cancer at the earliest stages, with a five-year survival rate between 93% and 100% looking for symptoms like lumps in breast tissue and underarm areas, breast or nipple pain, breast swelling, nipple discharge, and redness or thickening of breast skin. It’s crucial that seniors are able to recognize the symptoms of breast cancer so that the disease is caught in its early stages. It is recommended that women give themselves regular breast exams, as well as regular examinations by physicians.


Prostate Cancer

This form of cancer is found only in men, in the prostate, which is located near the bladder and the rectum. About half of everyone diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. Fortunately, prostate cancer has one of the highest cancer survival rates. Not many of the overall causes of prostate cancer are known, but many people are very aware of the risk factors for the disease. Some common risk factors for prostate cancer include males over 50, African American background, diets high in meat and dairy, and a genetic or family history of prostate cancer.

Symptom recognition is also key to keeping the survival rate of prostate cancer at a high level. If caught early, along with proper treatment, survival is more likely. The most common symptoms of prostate cancer include blood in urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the lower body, trouble urinating, and excessive urination.

Understanding the causes, risk factors and symptoms of not only prostate cancer but all cancers that are especially common in seniors could potentially save a life. Ranked by the American Cancer Society, cancers that rank highest included estimated annual incidence of 40,000+ cases. Breast cancer was the highest at 271,270 new cases expected in 2019, with lung cancer and prostate cancer following.


If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Home Health Care in Markham, please contact the caring professionals at  Staff Relief Health Care 24/7 at (905)-709-1767.




About Susan Di Michele

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