Studies point to lifestyle factors, genetics and obesity as a major reason for this
In a new study researchers analyzed cancer incidence and mortality for adolescents and young adults (AYA) in the United States by age group, sex, and race/ethnicity from 2007 to 2016. The researchers reported that multiple types of cancer, including kidney, thyroid, uterine, and colorectal, are still increasing in this age group.
The study shows that the mortality rate in the AYA population declined by 1 percent across every age group except for women aged 30 to 39 from 2008 to 2017. In that age group of women, there is no increase in mortality, but no decrease either. Most recently, the incidence numbers have been driven largely by thyroid cancer, which the researchers say ascended by approximately 3 percent annually among those aged 20 to 39 years and 4 percent among those aged 15 to 19 years.
Though scientists are still trying to fully understand thyroid cancer, which happens when cells in the thyroid develop changes in their DNA. But in most thyroid cancers, it’s still not clear what causes the DNA changes that cause the disease.
Another big part of the increase in the incidence of cancer overall in young Americans, and in fact in all age groups is lifestyles example being obese. Obesity and genetics factor in multiple cancers, including breast, uterine, and colorectal cancer.
The great takeaway from this data overall is that while incidence is still on the rise, some of these cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyles. The researchers urge continued investment to help us address these challenges, improve therapy, and support better longer-term outcomes.
“Many of them have no access to healthcare after their remission and they may be in poor health,” Roth told Healthline. “We need to focus our efforts on getting them in and then keeping them healthy and in touch with providers so they are doing appropriate preventative medicine”, said Dr. Michael Roth of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Roth said teens and young adults often think they’re healthy even when they are not.
In addition, experts say younger adults often do not continue their care after they have been treated.