Worldwide Cancer Incidence and Mortality Among Persons Aged 20 to 39 in 2012

Key Points

  • Cancer incidence and mortality were higher in women vs men aged 20 to 39 in 2012, a study finds.
  • Cancer incidence was higher but mortality lower for very high vs low Human Development Index regions.

In a study reported in The Lancet Oncology, Fidler et al found that cancer burden was higher worldwide among women vs men aged 20 to 39 in 2012 and that the incidence was higher but mortality lower in very high vs low Human Development Index regions.

Study Details

The study involved data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s GLOBOCAN 2012 for all cancers combined and for 27 major types. The numbers of new cancer cases and associated deaths were ascertained, and corresponding age-standardized rates per 100,000 people per year were calculated. The findings were categorized according to four levels (low, medium, high, very high) of the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite indicator for socioeconomic development covering life expectancy, education, and gross national income.

Incidence and Mortality

Overall, 975,396 new cancer cases and 358,392 cancer-associated deaths occurred among persons aged 20 to 39, yielding an age-standardized rate of 43.3 new cases/100,000 people per year and 15.9 cancer-associated deaths/100,000 people per year. Male-to-female ratios were 0.5 for cancer incidence and 0.8 for mortality; the most common cancer types were female breast cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, leukemia, and colorectal cancer for incidence and female breast cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, and cervical cancer for mortality.

The burden of infection-associated cancers was greater in transitional regions. Cancer incidence was higher in very high HDI regions vs low HDI regions (age-standardized rate = 64.5 vs 46.2/100, 000 per year), but mortality was higher in low HDI regions (age-standardized rate = 25.4 vs 9.2/100,000 per year).

The investigators concluded: “The global cancer burden among 20–39 year-olds differs from that seen in younger or older ages and varies substantially by age, sex, development level, and geographical region. Although the cancer burden is lower in this age group than that observed in older ages, the societal and economic effects remain great given the major effects of premature morbidity and mortality. Targeted surveillance, prevention, and treatment are needed to reduce the cancer burden in this underserved age group.”

The study was funded by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Commission’s FP-7 Marie Curie Actions–People–COFUND.

Miranda Fidler, PhD, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, is the corresponding author of The Lancet Oncology article. 

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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