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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2010 Apr;74(1):40-60. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2009.06.002. Epub 2009 Jul 4.

The role of immunity in elderly cancer.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Catania, Italy.


The increased incidence of malignancies in elderly patients living in industrialized countries has led to both identify the causes that alter the normal homeostatic balance in elderly and designate the specific treatments. The progressive decline of the immune system (immunosenescence) involving cellular and molecular alterations impact both innate and adaptive immunity. The immunosenescence leads to increased incidence of infectious diseases morbidity and mortality as well as heightened rates of other immune disorders such as autoimmunity, cancer, and inflammatory conditions. Here, we summarize the knowledge on the major changes in the immune system associated with aging in primary lymphoid organs as well as a description of molecular mechanisms, and the impact on cancer development.

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