The single greatest risk factor for developing cancer is ageing. Prolonged exposure to carcinogens, reduced DNA repairing ability, genetic instability, decreased carcinogens metabolism and decreased immune surveillance dramatically increase the incidence of cancer in the elderly. In India demographically this population is increasing – a 280 percent increase in cancer rate is expected to occur by 2050.
Cancer treatment in our country is highly priced and health insurance only benefits the upper and middle classes. In most cancer hospitals, needy elderly patients have to wait for months for diagnosis, preparing funds, seeking expert opinion and getting appointments from surgeons. Insufficient cancer treatment facilities and lack of early screening, resulting from poor public health system in the country has led to large numbers of cancer cases being reported too late for them to benefit from any long term treatment.