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More adolescents get cancer
People are getting older all over the world. Above all, life expectancy in western industrialized countries is increasing. This also increases the number of cancers, as this disease is more common in the elderly. But apparently more and more young people are also getting cancer, as a study now shows.
The number of new cancer cases is increasing worldwide
The World Cancer Report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warned of an increase in cancer. According to the experts, 20 million new cases could occur annually by 2025. There are also more and more cancers in Germany. The number of new cases in Germany has almost doubled since 1970. The main reason for the worldwide increase in cancer is increasing life expectancy - cancer is more common among older people.
More and more young people with cancer
According to forecasts by the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2030, 21.6 million new cancer cases worldwide are expected each year. In 2012 there were 14 million. Cancer deaths are also expected to increase from 8.2 to 13 million annually.
Although cancer is more common in old age, scientific studies have shown that more and more young people are getting cancer.
Experts in the UK recently also reported an evaluation that showed that new cancer cases in children are increasing dramatically.
And a long-term study by the Department of Public Health and the Lowell Center of Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts (USA) now showed an increase in cancer of teenagers between 15 and 19 years of more than 25 percent.
The scientists have now published their results in the specialist journal "PLOS ONE".
Largest increase in lymph node cancer
In order to arrive at their results, the research team led by Jessica Burkhammer, David Kriebel and Richard Clapp evaluated data from the SEER cancer registry.
As reported by the German Foundation for Young Adults with Cancer on its website, the scientists observed an increase in diagnosed diseases of more than 25 percent over the period from 1975 to 2012 (annual increase of 0.67 percent for young men and 0.62 percent for young women).
The development is therefore different for individual diagnoses. In lymph node cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma), the largest annual increases in frequency were observed with 2.16 percent for men and 1.38 percent for young women.
This was followed by thyroid cancer (plus 2.12 percent annually in young women, plus 1.59 percent in young men), acute bone marrow leukemia in young women (plus 1.73 percent annually) and testicular cancer (plus 1.55 percent annually) . Hodgkin's disease decreased in both sexes over the observed period.
Small comparable studies from Germany
The cause of the changes is unclear. Better diagnostic methods may play a role in thyroid cancer.
However, due to the steady increase over the years, the authors consider a general explanation through methodical changes in medicine to be unlikely and discuss, among other things, environmental influences.
There are no comparable studies from Germany. “We have an unfortunate deficit here. The data now published from the USA should also lead to increased research efforts in Germany, "said Prof. Dr. med. Mathias Freund, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the German Foundation for Young Adults with Cancer.
The authors of the US study emphasized the great importance society would have in identifying the causes of the rise in cancer rates among teenagers. (ad)