Research Statistics on Young adults with Cancer in Canada
Author: Canadian Cancer Society
Published: 2009-04-20 : (Rev. 2015-03-18)
More teenagers and young adults survive cancer diagnosis according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 released by the Canadian Cancer Society.
More teenagers and young adults survive a cancer diagnosis, according to the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, but too little is known about this group. The special focus of this year's report is cancer in adolescents and young people aged 15 to 29 years of age.
Each year approximately 2,075 young people in Canada between 15 and 29 years of age are diagnosed with cancer and about 326 die from the disease. The five-year survival for this age group is 85 per cent, a five per cent increase from 1992-1995.
"Thankfully cancer in this age group occurs relatively infrequently and represents only about 1.5 per cent of all cancer cases. However a cancer diagnosis when you are young and starting your life, is not something you should have to deal with," says Barbara Kaminsky, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon.
As we work to learn more about this largely understudied group, it is clear that adolescent and young adult cancer poses significant challenges. "The number of young people diagnosed at this age does not begin to convey the huge personal impact of a cancer diagnosis. Nor does it reflect the cost to society as young adults prepare to make life-changing decisions about employment, education and relationships."
Canadian Cancer Society funded researcher Dr. Torsten Nielsen, Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of British Columbia, is studying synovial sarcomas which arise in the muscles, bones, joints, nerves and other connective tissues. These types of cancers typically affect young adults and are treated with surgery.
While the overall survival rates among teenagers and young adults with cancer is 85 per cent, the survival rates for some sarcomas is less than 50 per cent.
With continued funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, Dr. Nielsen's group is now working on new drugs that may have the potential to treat synovial sarcomas more effectively than other therapies; if successful, their research could significantly improve survival rates.
This year's Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 reports that adolescents and young adults are less likely than children to participate in clinical trials. Only 10 to 20 per cent of this age group participate compared with 60 per cent among children. According to Dr. Nielsen, a Canadian clinical trial of a new drug for connective tissue cancers that usually affect young adults is expected to begin later this year.
"We are pleased with the additional focus on adolescents and young adults in this year's statistics," says Nielsen. "More information is needed about cancer in this age group and about the exceptional challenges these patients face."
Adolescents and young adults may delay seeking medical attention upon experiencing symptoms or they may not have access to routine medical care. The report also notes teenagers and young adults can experience feelings of isolation and lack peer support. They also face the stress of navigating a cancer care system that is primarily tailored to those much older.
Healthcare providers may be less familiar with cancer symptoms in this age group and may not consider a cancer diagnosis. In addition to these challenges, teens and young adults face the possibility of future health problems, called late effects, as the result of either their cancer or the treatment they receive.
"Awareness of cancer in young people requires more attention. This is not just a disease of the aged," says Kaminsky. "We need to invest more in research, provide more support and ultimately learn what people can do to prevent cancer before it starts in this age group."
Highlights: Cancer in adolescents and young people (15 to 29 years of age)
From 1996-2005, the overall cancer incidence rate has risen in young men by 0.8 per cent per year and in young women by 1.4 per cent per year. However the death rate has declined from 1995-2004 in young men by 2.9 per cent per year and in young women by 1.4 per cent per year.
Leukemia accounts for the greatest number of cancer deaths for both young men and women in this age group.
The most common cancers for young men are testicular cancer and lymphoma.
The most common cancers for young women are thyroid cancer and lymphoma.
Highlights: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009
In Canada the number of new cancer cases is expected to approach 171,000 in 2009 which is about 470 Canadians diagnosed each day, or one every three minutes.
Five-year relative survival ratios in Canada
For the first time, the Canadian Cancer Statistics includes survival estimates comparing the change in survival over a ten-year period (1992-1994 to 2002-2004). Over this time period relative survival ratios have risen by 4.5 per cent for all cancers. The greatest improvement in survival was for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, prostate, colorectal and breast cancers.
Survival is highest for thyroid, testicular and prostate cancers and melanoma and lowest for pancreatic, esophageal, lung and liver cancers.
Five-year relative survival ratios in BC
Like incidence and mortality rates, age-standardized relative survival ratios are an indicator of the burden of cancer. Examining the five-year relative survival ratio by province and cancer type can help to identify priority areas for improving prognosis. British Columbia is very similar to the national average.
In Canada the national five-year relative survival ratio for the four most common cancers are: prostate cancer 94 per cent; breast cancer 87 per cent; colorectal cancer 62 per cent and lung cancer 15 per cent.
In British Columbia the province five-year relative survival ratio for the four most common cancers are: prostate cancer 95 per cent; breast cancer 87 per cent; colorectal cancer 62 per cent and lung cancer 13 per cent.
In British Columbia in 2009 there are an estimated 20,600 new cases of cancer and 9,400 deaths expected. This is represents 100 more new cases and 200 more deaths than 2008. The number of new cancer cases and deaths continues to rise steadily as the Canadian population grows and ages.
Men in British Columbia continue to have the lowest overall incidence rate of cancer in Canada and the lowest overall mortality rate for all cancers.
Women in British Columbia have the second lowest overall incidence rate of cancer in Canada and the lowest overall mortality rate for all cancers.
Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in men and women, killing 2,450 British Columbians this year and afflicting another 2,750 residents.
"Preventing cancer and supporting individuals, families and communities in dealing with its impacts, are public health priorities," says Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "We all have a role to play, working in collaboration, to make a difference in the lives of Canadians."
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