Title

Highlights from an Expert Meeting on Opportunities for Cancer Prevention among Older Adults

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

5-17-2019

Journal

Gerontologist

Volume

59

DOI

10.1093/geront/gnz037

Keywords

Environment; Health promotion; Preventive healthcare; Psychosocial; Social factors

Abstract

© 2019 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America 2019. This paper provides highlights from an expert meeting to explore opportunities to reduce cancer risk and promote health at older ages. Factors that increase cancer risk among older adults include exposure to carcinogens from multiple sources, chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes, and unhealthy behaviors. Emerging research points to chronic social stressors - social isolation, loneliness, and financial hardship - as being linked to accelerated biological aging and increased cancer risk later in life. Older adults may disproportionately encounter these stressors as well as barriers to preventive health care services, accurate health information, and environments that promote health. Researchers can use existing cohort studies of older adults to deepen our understanding of the relative benefit of modifying specific behaviors and circumstances. The evidence points to the value of comprehensive, transdisciplinary approaches to promote health and reduce cancer risk across the entire lifespan, extending through older adulthood. Clinical encounters with older adults provide opportunities for psychosocial and behavioral screening and counseling. In the presence of multiple morbidities, preventive health services may offer greater health benefits than cancer-screening tests. Strategies that involve families and caregivers, promote positive attitudes about aging, and engage many different community sectors have the potential to prevent or delay the development of cancer at older ages.

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