Few cancer deaths at very old age

14/07/2003 10:00

There is a high probability that very old people will die of cardio-vascular disease. This is the cause of death for four in ten people over 90. Cancer is far less often the cause of death among them.

One in five women dies over 90 years of age

Seven percent of the men who died in 2001 were over 90 years of age. The number of women aged over 90 when they died was much higher, namely nineteen percent.

Cardio-vascular disease is the major cause of death.

One in three people who died under the age of 90 died of cardio-vascular disease. This percentage among people who died over the age of 90 was slightly higher with four in ten. Heart attacks occur less frequently as the cause of death among them, but strokes are all the more common.

Causes of death in two age categories, 2001

Few cancer deaths

Cancer is a major cause of premature death. Among people under 90 cancer makes up 30 percent of all deaths. This percentage is much lower among people over 90, namely ten percent.

There is a difference in the types of cancers between the age groups over and under 90. Almost a quarter of the people who died of cancer when they were under 90 died of lung cancer. Among people over 90 the share of lung cancer in the total number of cancer deaths was barely seven percent.

Cancer deaths by type of cancer, 2001


Relatively many people die of respiratory diseases when they are very old. This is mainly due to the high death rate from pneumonia. In 2001 more than eight percent of people over 90 died of it. This is twice the rate of people under 90.

Falling as cause of death

Three percent of people who died over the age of 90 died from injuries sustained in a fall. In more than 80 percent of these cases this is due to breaking something, usually a hip or a thigh bone.

Anouschka van der Meulen, Ingeborg Keij-Deerenberg