A global response to cancer and aging

As part of a multiyear collaboration, we have joined forces with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the European Cancer Organisation to raise awareness, advance understanding and inform discussions on age-inclusive cancer programs. We supported the UICC’s virtual Aging and Cancer series in the context of an aging world and against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic: 

During the 2021 World Cancer Leaders’ Summit, Alexander Zehnder, Sanofi Global Head of Oncology, moderated a panel discussion with leading experts on the rising burden of cancer and aging, which focused on the innovative and inclusive policies required to overcome inequities and address the community’s unique needs.

And as a member of European Cancer Organisation’s Community 365 Roundtable on Inequalities, we led a discussion on Treating Aging Patients with Cancer. The Action Report developed from the roundtable, It Can Be Done: Beating Inequalities in Cancer Care, can be found here and was launched at the 2020 European Cancer Summit

Defining policy gaps

This year, we commissioned KPMG to conduct an analysis on the estimated economic and societal impact if no action is taken by 2040 to address the implications of cancer and aging. The analysis indicates that the economic and societal burden of cancer and aging will increase by approximately 80% over the next two decades. 

The study also identifies several policy recommendations to address the burden of aging and cancer given existing gaps in national cancer management policies and programs in many countries around the world, including:

Provide relevant education and training in geriatric practice ot onology practitioners, for example, by formulating national oncogeriatric training as part of on-going continual professional development.
Encourage the use of geriatric assessment tools and geriatric evaluation into oncology decision-making.
Enhance the evidence base for treatments for elderly people with cancer through clinical trials, particularly on treatment strategies and the use of new drugs in elderly subjects.

In 2020, we commissioned The Economist Intelligence Unit to identify policy gaps around cancer and aging and quantify the scope of pressing needs. The report, Cancer and Aging: Policy Responses to Meeting the Needs of Older People, explores existing policy framework, drawing on experience and findings from key experts across Europe, Japan and the US. 

The report provides key considerations for societies to better respond to the unique needs of older people during their cancer journey, including:

Personalized resources for older patients with cancer during screening, treatment and follow-up care to ensure they are fully treated.

« Healthcare workers and policymakers are frequently failing to see older people living with cancer as individuals. Better geriatric training and understanding...could help elderly cancer patients make informed decisions with their doctors that will aid them in their cancer journey.»

The Economist Intelligence Unit
Cancer and Aging: Policy responses to Meeting the Needs of Older People

Where innovation and healthcare meet

In 2020, we engaged with more than 700 “hackers” worldwide, to tackle some of healthcare’s biggest challenges at the virtual Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Hacking Medicine Grand Hack.

  • Taking action: We sponsored two hackathon tracks, one focused on cancer and one on aging, to generate innovative ideas that could plug gaps in care for people living with cancer.
  • Generating ideas: Within 48 hours, more than 40 teams participated in our sponsored challenges, sharing unique solutions to customize cancer care and to help us think differently. The winning idea for the “Customized Cancer Care” challenge focused on the treatment of brain tumors, envisioning a technological solution to store a patient’s medical records, CT scans and genetic profile that would then match an appropriate treatment to the individual person.
"We have to find solutions so that we can increase the access to care for all older patients, no matter where they live."
Martine Extermann

Martine Extermann

Program Leader, Senior Adult Oncology Program, Moffitt Cancer center

Learn more about the When Cancer Grows Old program

Supporting organizations working on solutions that improve the cancer patient journey

Supporting older people with breast cancer in Greece through Alma Zois