Although cancer is often thought of as a disease of the elderly, the incidence of cancer among young people is also increasing.
Colorectal, cervical, and Breast cancer cases Cristina Annunziata, senior vice president of extramural discovery sciences at the American Cancer Society, told Business Insider.
colorectal cancer Cancer, sometimes called colon or rectal cancer depending on where it starts, is now the leading cause of cancer death in men under 50, according to ACS 2024 cancer statistics. It is the second most deadly cancer for women in the same age group. Number of deaths due to colorectal cancer According to the ACS, the number of people under 55 has grown by about 1% each year since the mid-2000s.
The incidence of breast cancer in women has been increasing by about 0.6% annually since the mid-2000s, but the rate of increase is slightly faster in women under 50 than in women over 50.
On the other hand, the number of cases of cervical cancer is increasing among women aged 30 to 44. The incidence among women in this age group increased by 1.7% annually from 2012 to 2019. However, the incidence among women aged 20 to 44 years has increased over the same period. According to the ACS, 24 deaths were an 11% annual decrease, likely due to the HPV vaccine.
“The youngest people are doing better since the vaccine was introduced, but cervical cancer is increasing in people like those in their 30s,” Annunziata said.
The good news is that there are screening tests available for these specific types of cancer that can detect early or pre-cancerous conditions.
“I think we have a chance to reverse this trend if people continue to get tested,” she said. “I’m worried if no action is taken.”
Annunziata shared three things that can help young people reduce their risk of developing cancer or increase their chances of detecting cancer early.
know your family history
Annunziata said it’s important to know if cancer runs in your family and at what age someone in your family developed cancer.
Hereditary cancers tend to occur earlier than non-hereditary cancers. “This means that if a gene or mutation is passed down in a family, cancer will develop at an earlier age in that family,” she says.
According to the ACS, nearly one in three people diagnosed with colorectal cancer before age 50 has a family history or genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer.For example, if Lynch syndromethe risk of developing colorectal cancer increases by 20-80% if it is a genetic disease.
have BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutationsMeanwhile, breast cancer that runs in the family increases the chance of developing breast cancer by 45% to 85%, according to the Johns Hopkins University Medical Research Institute.
“Knowing your family history is very important in determining your own risk, and also in convincing or telling your doctor that this is something to be concerned about. ” she says.
assert yourself at the clinic
Annunziata says common signs of cancer, such as weight loss, fatigue and nausea, can be very vague, so it’s important to speak up if something doesn’t feel right.
Your doctor is more likely to attribute your symptoms to another cause, especially if you are young and healthy. “When a young person presents with alarming symptoms, cancer may not be the first thing that comes to a doctor’s mind, because other diseases are much more common in young people,” she said. says.
Signs of cancer can mimic far less serious health conditions, Annunziata says, but if something doesn’t improve, it’s best to get tested.
take a test
Colorectal, cervical and breast cancer are all testable, she said, and the earlier the cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.
Breast cancer screening should begin in your 40s if you have an unknown family history, or earlier if you have a family history, and cervical cancer screening should begin in your teens or 20s, she said. .
“This is a simple test that can be done in the clinic to detect early cervical cancer and precancerous lesions and remove them to prevent cancer from developing,” she said.
The ACS said people should start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45. There are multiple screening tools available.