Driving Solutions to Give Everyone with Cancer the Best Possible Chance to Grow Older

Our When Cancer Grows Old™ initiative addresses the challenges of cancer and aging. We collaborate with the global cancer community, including advocates and healthcare providers around the world, to give people with cancer the best possible chance to grow older. 

The world’s population is aging more quickly than ever before. By 2050, the number of people over 60 is expected to double.1 People with cancer are also growing older. Approximately 37% of new cancer cases around the world are diagnosed in people older than 70,2 and this number is predicted to more than double by 2040.3 This staggering trend will place a significant burden on individuals, families, communities and healthcare systems worldwide.4

Older people with cancer and their families often face inconsistent treatment and prevention guidance,4,5,6 additional health problems that require customized care,4,7 and lack of access to relevant information, resources and post-treatment support.7,8,9

Seeking to Tackle the Challenges of Cancer and Aging

Meet Thomas, Living with Lung Cancer

Driving solutions

In 2020, we began working on customized solutions for people with cancer throughout all stages of their disease.

This means collaborating with our partners around the world to support the work of advocates and healthcare providers to identify solutions for people with cancer and their families, and working with the cancer community at the global, regional and local levels to ensure that existing programs and policies continue to improve.

  • The way the world cares for people growing older with cancer is evolving. Hear a range of first-hand perspectives from five people, including those living with cancer, caregivers, and advocates from around the world, about transformations on the horizon. Read the full article, produced by BBC StoryWorks.
  • Peter Adamson, Global Head of Oncology Development and Pediatric Innovation, shares his perspective on the need to improve outcomes for those living with cancer.
  • Dietmar Berger, Chief Medical Officer and Global Head of Development, shares his perspective on our efforts to make a meaningful impact on older patients and their families. Read his Q&A with STAT News
We will continue to raise awareness and visibility of the challenges for people with cancer throughout all stages of the disease, with the goal of giving all patients the best possible chance to live longer, fuller lives.
Alexander Zehnder

Alexander Zehnder

Responsable Monde Oncologie, Sanofi

The time for change is now

The challenges faced by older people with cancer will only escalate if societies do not have the will or the ways to address these gaps in how patients experience care. Now is the time to bring together the best thinking and resources from around the world to create a ripple effect of change and action. We are trying to do just that with our platforms such as When Cancer Grows OldTM to unite efforts, elevate voices and encourage dialogue. 

I am fighting, like I always have... I feel like I am a warrior and I won't stop... I believe I have a lot of courage, a lot of strenght, and a lot of faith.
Elizabeth Garcia de Freitas

Elizabeth Garcia de Freitas

Living with metastatic breast cancer from Brazil

Breast cancer is often portrayed through stories of survivorship and glossy imagery. For people living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the realities of the disease are difficult, uncomfortable to discuss and distinct from early-stage breast cancer. The physical, emotional and socioeconomic realities of living with MBC can often be overlooked, under-represented and need to be addressed. MBC Unfiltered was developed to authentically elevate voices of the community through unfiltered moments and to provide resources focused on quality of life for the community, by the community.

Learn more

Collaborating with organizations to raise awareness and inform discussions on age-inclusive cancer programs
Supporting organizations working on solutions that improve the cancer patient journey


  1. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017). World Population Ageing 2017 - Highlights (ST/ESA/SER.A/397).
  2. Globocan. Global Cancer Observatory Cancer Tomorrow. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer Website. 2018. http://gco.iarc.fr/tomorrow/graphic-isotype?type=0&population=900&mode=population&sex=0&cancer=39&age_group=65%2B&apc_male=0&apc_female=0. Accessed on 26 Nov, 2019.
  3. Globocan. Global Cancer Observatory Cancer Tomorrow. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer Website. 2018. http://gco.iarc.fr/tomorrow/graphic-line?type=0&population=900&mode=population&sex=0&cancer=39&age_group=65%2B&apc_male=0&apc_female=0. Accessed on 26 Nov, 2019.
  4. Pilleron, S., Sarfati, D., Janssen‐Heijnen, M., Vignat, J , Ferlay, J., Bray, F. and Soerjomataram, I. (2019), Global cancer incidence in older adults, 2012 and 2035: A population‐based study. Int J Cancer, 144: 49-58. doi:10.1002/ijc.31664.
  5. Bareket, R., Schonberg, M. A., Comaneshter, D., Schonmann, Y., Shani, M., Cohen, A. and Vinker, S. (2017), Cancer Screening of Older Adults in Israel According to Life Expectancy: Cross Sectional Study. J Am Geriatr Soc, 65: 2539-2544. doi:10.1111/jgs.15035
  6. Ebell, M.H., Thai, T.N. and Royalty, K.J. (2018), Cancer screening recommendations: an international comparison of high income countries. Public Health Rev, 39(7). doi:10.1186/s40985-018-0080-0
  7. Cope, D.G. (2006), An Evidence-Based Approach to the Treatment and Care of the Older Adult With Cancer. Chapter 1: Cancer and the Aging Population. https://www.ons.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdfs/Evidence%20Based%20Practice_Older_Adult_CHAPTER_1.pdf
  8. Baitar, A., Buntinx, F., De, T., Deckx, L., Bulens, P., Wildiers, H. and Van, M. (2017), The utilization of formal and informal home care by older patients with cancer: a Belgian cohort study with two control groups. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1): 644. doi:10.1186/s12913-017-2594-4
  9. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Psychosocial Services to Cancer Patients/Families in a Community Setting; Adler NE, Page AEK, editors. Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2008. 1, The Psychosocial Needs of Cancer Patients. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK4011/.