- More than half of all cancers occur in New Jersey's older adults.
With the rapid growth of the 65-and-over age group, older-adult
cancer is quickly becoming a critical issue for public health, research,
and the medical community, Health and Senior Services Commissioner
Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. said today.
the year 2030, more than 20 percent of the nation's population will
be 65 or older, compared with 12 percent today. In New Jersey today,
there are 1.1 million older adults or about 13 percent of the population,
according to the report, Cancer
Among Older Adults in New Jersey: 1994 - 1998, released by the
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
"Older-adult cancer presents special challenges. The elderly
often have other illnesses that make cancer management difficult.
They may have inadequate access to health care because of financial,
transportation and other problems," Dr. Lacy said. "They
may not undergo the screening tests that are so vital to early diagnosis
and better outcome."
McGreevey has proposed $37 million in his budget for the fight against
cancer and $30 million for tobacco control. This funding is vital
to the effort both to prevent cancer and to develop better treatments
and patient care for those diagnosed with these diseases,"
the Commissioner added.
to the report released today, 64 percent of men in New Jersey and
58 percent of women newly diagnosed with cancer are age 65 or older.
and mortality rates vary by age, gender, race and type of cancer.
However, overall incidence rates are higher for older men - especially
those over 75 -- than for older women. This is due mainly to older
men's higher incidence of prostate cancer and younger women's (under
65) slightly higher incidence of breast cancer.
The report also analyzes cancer trends by three older-adult age
groups - the "young old" ages 65 to 74, the "older
old" ages 75 to 84 and the "oldest old" age 85 and
total cancer incidence and mortality rates have risen in each successive
age group. In recent years, incidence rates for the over-85 group
have converged toward the rates of the 75-to-84 age group for both
men and women. Declining prostate and colorectal cancer rates may
explain this trend among the oldest men, and declining uterine and
colorectal cancer rates may be responsible for the trend in women.
screening tests are critically important. That is a message that
we need to communicate to older adults and their health care providers,"
Dr. Lacy said.
the availability of screening tests, only a third of older adults
diagnosed with colon cancer are diagnosed in the earliest stages
of the disease, the report notes. Data from the report also show
the need for increasing cervical cancer screening, since too few
women are being diagnosed at the earliest stages of the disease.
Women age 85 and older also have the smallest share of their breast
cancers diagnosed at an early stage.
the area of skin cancer, on the other hand, more than 70 percent
of melanomas - the most aggressive and dangerous form of skin cancer
- are diagnosed at an early stage, although that percentage drops
among women with advancing age.
Department's Cancer Education and Early Detection Program offers
breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancer screening, outreach
and education. The program targets racial and ethnic minorities,
low-income persons and those who are uninsured or underinsured.
Screening and follow-up testing are offered in the state's 21 counties.