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Fewer than 5% of centenarians die of cancer

4th June 2014

Researchers from King's College London analysed 36,000 death certificates and found evidence to suggest a change in healthcare for centenarians is needed.

Old HandsAccording to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, today's number of centenarians (13,000) is due to rise to more than 500,000 by the year 2066.

The study

The study showed 28% of 100- to 115-year-olds died of 'old age; 20% pneumonia; <5% cancer and <9% heart disease.

By contrast, cancer was responsible for 25% of death in those aged between 80- to 84 and heart disease was responsible for <20%.

Lead researcher, Dr Catherine Evans, said the findings raised an important issue for the focus of healthcare in centenarians.

"Centenarians have outlived death from chronic illness, but they are a group living with increasing frailty and vulnerability to pneumonia and other poor health outcomes.

"We need to plan for healthcare services that meet the 'hidden needs' of this group."

The study was published in the journal PLOS medicine.

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