Ageing is a natural process. But the incidence of most cancers increases with increasing age especially after midlife. One of the possible explanations for this can be that the immune system gets weak with advancing age thus decreasing the ability to fight the precancerous cells.
Apart from this the DNA repair mechanisms are also less effective and there are already long term effects of chronic inflammation. Secondly is their prolonged exposure to chemicals sunlight, radiation, environmental chemicals, and substances in the food we eat as well as certain behaviours. Ageing is under the influence of genetic predisposition but also modified by environmental factors like cigarette smoking. Age is an important risk factor for breast cancer. The risk is 1 in 228 in thirties age group which significantly increases to 1 in 29 by the time you reach 60’s. Similar association has been noted with cervical cancer. It is rarely seen in young girls. The incidence increases in middle age and after rises after midlife(peaks around 47 years). Women more than 65 years of age have 10% incidence of disease but they are more likely to die of this cancer as it is an advanced disease. Even for ovarian cancer approximately more than half of the cases are diagnosed after the age of 50 years.
More than 80 % of the ovarian cancer deaths were in the age group of 60 years and above.
But cancer can occur at any age. For example, bone cancer, leukemias, germ cell tumours which are found in the young age group only. Even certain type of cancer like neuroblastomas are more common in children and adolescents. But this incidence is very less of around 1% of new cancer cases.
The only way to modify this process is making lifestyle changes like regular physical activity, healthy and balanced diet, limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking. Apart from this, early and effective management of chronic health problems should be done help in decreasing the cancer risk with age.