It is estimated that health care expenditures will triple in the next 70 years, with Medicare expenses alone accounting for 8% of the gross domestic product. While part of this will be due to increasing expenditures per person, the most significant cause will be the expanding elderly population. Cancer occurs predominantly in elderly people, and the growing size of this age group in the United States will certainly increase the prevalence of this health problem. While the definition of "elderly" is an area of controversy, the increased life expectancy of a person born this year is anticipated to lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people who will require care for cancer during their lifetimes. Assuming that the recent trends in the incidence of disease and life expectancy continue, it is estimated that cancer will bypass cardiac disease and become the leading cause of death in the United States by the year 2010. Couple this with the increase in the absolute number of elderly people requiring medical care, and it seems reasonable to envision the emergence of geriatric oncology!
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