Cancer Rates Rising in Under-50s, But Doctors Don’t Know Why

Cancer rates are on the rise in people under the age of 50, according to a new study.  (Getty Images)

Cancer rates are on the rise in people under the age of 50, according to a new study. (Getty Images)

The increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer among young adults in recent years has not gone unnoticed. However, the startling results of the new study suggest that the increased incidence of the disease among young people is not limited to this cancer.

The findings, published in JAMA Network Open, are “based on previously reported data and observations of public interest,” Dr. Jack Jacob, an oncologist at Orange Coast Medical Center and medical director of MemorialCare Cancer Institute, told Yahoo Lifestyle. In Fountain Valley, California. “This is extremely important information.”

Which types of cancer are increasing among young adults, and more importantly, why? The doctor explained it in detail.

What did the research report say?

Cases of early-onset cancers — those that appear in people younger than 50 — increased from 2010 to 2019, the new study found.

What are the main conclusions?

Researchers analyzed data from 17 National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2019, including 562,145 individuals diagnosed with early-onset cancer. patient.

During this time, the researchers found an increase in the incidence of early-onset cancers in the general population, especially in women. In contrast, men had a reduced chance of developing this type of cancer.

In 2019, the highest number of early-onset cancer cases occurred in breast cancer (12,649 cases), but the incidence of gastrointestinal cancers increased the most during the study period. Of all gastrointestinal cancers, cancers of the appendix, cholangiocarcinoma, and pancreas have seen the fastest growth in incidence.

The study “may contribute to the development of surveillance strategies and funding priorities,” the researchers wrote.

Getty Images

Getty Images

What do the experts think?

Doctors stress the importance of these findings. “We know there is an increase in colorectal cancer among young people under 50, but what we don’t know is that the cancers that are growing the fastest are the most unusual ones, such as cancers of the appendix and biliary tract” Dr. Anton Santa Monica, CA Bil Chik, a surgical oncologist and medical director at St. John’s Cancer Institute, told Yahoo Lifestyle.

As for why, we’re still investigating, Dr. Christopher G. Cann, an assistant professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, told Yahoo Lifestyle & Style. “The cancer research community is still unsure of the underlying causes of the increase in early-onset cancer cases,” he acknowledged.

“The current study suggests that early-onset gastrointestinal cancers may be determined by changes in gut microbiota bacterial species, early exposure to antibiotics or environmental carcinogens.”

Jacobs noted that the obesity epidemic may also play a role. “Everyone recognizes that the U.S. population is more obese than the rest of the world,” he said. “Obesity creates many secondary problems, such as hormonal changes and inflammation, that can lead to higher rates of cancer.”

Another factor may be that young people are receiving more medical tests for cancer than in the past, Birchik said. “We’re improving early detection,” he said. She also noted that breast cancer is likely to be one of the most commonly screened cancers in people under the age of 50. “In addition, we have lowered the screening age for colorectal cancer to 45 years,” Bilchik said.

“Maybe people are also more aware that cancer doesn’t always occur in old age,” he said. “But there are other factors that we can’t account for.”

Doctors shouldn't assume patients are too young to get cancer, study confirms / Getty Creative

Doctors shouldn’t assume patients are too young to get cancer, study confirms / Getty Creative

Why is it so important?

It’s important for young people and the medical community to pay attention to these results, Cann said. “It is vital that we work to make the public aware of this worrying trend and encourage young people to contact their doctors with any questions or concerns,” she said.

Jacobs said it’s also important for healthcare professionals not to assume that younger patients are immune to cancer. “Physicians shouldn’t be looking for other symptom explanations just because, ‘Who’s going to get cancer at 35?’,” he explained. “We need to add that to the list of possibilities for diagnosing health conditions.”

He found the study’s findings “revelatory” and provided “relevant data”.

“Health professionals will be watching this closely. This will set a precedent for the training of future doctors,” he predicts.

Colin Miller

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