Preventative Measures for Cancer in Elderly Patients

June 1, 2022

elderly couple dancing

In 2020, 602,350 people died of cancer in the United States of America. Out of that 602,350 people, 440,753 were adults aged older than 65. While it is not shocking that cancer claims more elderly lives than younger ones, it is still devastating. Hopefully, we will see those numbers vastly decrease in upcoming years as cancer mortality rates have been on the decline from 2001 to 2020. This decline can be best explained by these four measures according to the CDC:

  • Anti-tobacco marketing campaigns, which encourage people to not smoke and educate the public about the dangers of nicotine 
  • The introduction of vaccines which prevent viruses such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) which often lead to cancer 
  • Early cancer screenings, which catch the disease early so there is a higher chance of treatment working 
  • The creation of new cancer treatments thanks to the advancement of science  

You might have noticed that three out of the four reasons the CDC listed for declining cancer rates are preventative measures. Cancer treatments take their toll on patients, especially the elderly. From watching loved ones undergo chemotherapy, many can attest that this procedure is never easy at any age. The treatments become riskier with age as they are more vulnerable to infections. However, there are preventative measures to lower their risk of cancer that the elderly can take. 

Education On the Harms of Smoking

As listed before, the public service announcements regarding the health risks associated with smoking have played a large part in reducing cancer deaths. The lowest rates of smokers are between the ages of 18-24. While the second lowest group is those aged 65 and older, those who are aged 45-65 are the highest. The marketing campaigns have primarily targeted teens while largely ignoring adults. It is imperative to educate those adults to quit smoking.  The majority of cancer deaths are associated with lung cancer, which is often a result due to smoking.   

Healthy Diets

There are plenty of foods that help protect you against cancer. It is important to incorporate these food items into your diet for a more balanced diet as well as a more beneficial one. The American Institute for Cancer Research has compiled a list of these foods, which includes apples, garlic, grapefruit, and wholegrains. For more information on how to maintain a healthy diet after sixty-five, check out our blog post by guest-writer Jennifer Birch on the topic.

Aerobic and Strength Training

Exercising regularly has many benefits. Not only does it release endorphins to improve your mood, it can also help prevent cancer. Experts believe that exercising can reduce inflammation, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your immune system. All of these things help ward off cancer. It is recommended to workout for 15o minutes a week if you are doing moderate exercises. If you prefer something more rigorous, 75 minutes will suffice. 

Other Preventative Measures

Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aspirin therapy, vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, pneumococcal, and influenza have also been suggested as ways to prevent cancer. However, there is not enough scientific research to conclusively back this claim up. However, these preventative measures do offer other health benefits. It’s always a good idea to get vaccinated in order to fight off diseases that can otherwise take a hefty toll on our bodies. Lowering your LDL levels help fight off heart disease. Aspirin is often recommended for elderly patients to protect against heart attacks and strokes. While there is no guarantee to completely protect yourself from cancer, there are many methods to lower your risk. Make sure you go to regular screenings and take good care of yourself.      

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