Cancer rates among elderly, minorities predicted to increase by 45%

May 14, 2009

Over the next 20 years, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States will increase by 45%, from 1.6 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030, with a dramatic spike in incidence predicted in the elderly and minority populations, according to research from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Over the next 20 years, the number of new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States will increase by 45%, from 1.6 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030, with a dramatic spike in incidence predicted in the elderly and minority populations, according to research from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Researchers found that the incidence of the leading organ-specific cancers, including prostate cancer, are expected to remain constant. However, among cancer sites with the greatest expected increase in incidence, bladder cancer ranked fifth at 54%.

The study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to determine such specific long-term cancer incidence projections, according to lead author Ben Smith, MD, and underscores cancer’s growing stress on the U.S. health care system.

"In 2030, 70% of all cancers will be diagnosed in the elderly and 28% in minorities, and the number of older adults diagnosed with cancer will be the same as the total number of Americans diagnosed with cancer in 2010," Dr. Smith said. "Also alarming is that a number of the types of cancers that are expected to increase, such as liver, stomach, and pancreas, still have tremendously high mortality rates."

To conduct their research, Dr. Smith and his team accessed the United States Census Bureau statistics, updated in 2008, to project population growth through 2050, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry. Cancer incidence rates were calculated by multiplying the age, sex, race, and origin-specific population projections by the age, sex, race, and origin-specific cancer incidence rates.

The researchers found that from 2010 to 2030, the population is expected to grow by 19%. The total number of cancer cases will increase by 45%, with a 67% increase in cancer incidence in older Americans (1 to 1.6 million), compared with an 11% increase in those under the age of 65.

With respect to race, a 100% increase in cancer is expected for minorities (.33 to .66 million); in contrast, in Caucasians, a 31% increase is anticipated (1.3 to 1.7 million).