Teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers diagnosis and treatment statistics

Routes to diagnosis

'Emergency presentation' is the most common route to diagnosing teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers

Surgery

Common treatment for teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers, UK

Chemotherapy

Common treatment for teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers, UK

Radiotherapy

Common treatment for teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers, UK

Around a fifth (19%) of cancer cases in teenagers and young adults in England are diagnosed via the ‘two-week wait’ referral route.[1]

Almost a quarter (23%) of cancer cases in teenagers and young adults in England are diagnosed following a routine or urgent GP referral (but not under the ‘two-week wait’ referral route.[1]

Around a quarter (24%) of cancer cases in teenagers and young adults in England are diagnosed after presenting as an emergency.[1]

As for adults route of diagnosis varies considerably by cancer type. 

References

  1. Routes to diagnosis data were provided by National Cancer Intelligence Network, on request October 2012. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ncin.org.uk/publications/routes_to_diagnosis.aspx
Last reviewed:

Treatments for most cancers in teenagers and young adults are surgery, chemotherapy Open a glossary item, and radiotherapy Open a glossary item and combinations of any or all of these.

Treatment summary for selected cancers in teenagers and young adults

Cancer Treatment
Lymphomas Hodgkin lymphoma The main treatments are chemotherapy (sometimes in combination with steroids) and radiotherapy. Occasionally surgery is used for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma, a particularly indolent form of the disease. Stem cell transplants (including bone marrow transplants) are sometimes used for relapsed disease.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Carcinomas Although carcinomas together make up the second most common diagnostic group in 15-24 year-olds, they comprise a diverse group of cancer types with a wide range of prognoses. Treatment is dependent on where the primary tumour is located, how aggressive it is, whether it can be surgically removed and whether it has spread to other organs. However, in general, surgery is used for good prognosis tumours, frequently in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. For poor prognosis tumours, treatment may be limited to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.
Germ cell tumours (GCTs) For extra-cranial GCTs (those occurring outside of the brain), the main treatments are surgery and chemotherapy. For intra-cranial GCTs, combinations of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are used depending on the type.
Brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours Teenagers and young adults can develop a wide range of different types of brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours. In general, surgery is used to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Depending on the type, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy may also be used. If surgery is not possible, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination.
Malignant melanoma Early or medium-stage melanoma is treated with surgery to remove the lesion (stage 1 and 2) and affected lymph nodes (stage 3). Treatment for metastatic melanoma can include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and biological therapies.
Leukaemia Acute lymphoid leukaemia (ALL) Chemotherapy is the main treatment, usually in combination with steroids. Chemotherapy is usually carried out in three phases: remission induction, consolidation, and maintenance. Stem cell transplants (including bone marrow transplants) and biological therapies may be used. Occasionally treatment also involves radiotherapy, either to the brain or to the whole body. Relapsed ALL is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) Chemotherapy is the main treatment. Stem cell transplants (including bone marrow transplants) and biological therapies may be used. Occasionally treatment also involves radiotherapy either to the brain or to the whole body. Relapsed AML is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.
Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) Treatment is mainly with biological therapies. Sometimes chemotherapy and/or stem cell transplants (including bone marrow transplants) are used.
Bone tumours A combination of chemotherapy and surgery is usually used. Radiotherapy may also be used, either instead of surgery or in addition to it, particularly for Ewing tumour. Surgery may involve removal of the tumour and some normal tissue around it, or sometimes removal of a whole limb (amputation).
Soft tissue sarcomas (STSs) Surgery is usually the main treatment for the primary tumour. Radiotherapy may also be used, either before or after surgery. Some types of STS, such as rhabdomyosarcoma, are also treated with chemotherapy. If the tumour cannot be resected, or if it has spread to other organs, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be used on their own or in combination.

References

  1. Data were provided by Catherine O'Hara and Debasree Purkayastha, North West Cancer Intelligence Service on behalf of the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN); Professor Jillian Birch and Robert Alston, Cancer Research UK Paediatric and Familial Cancer Research Group (University of Manchester), Dr Martin McCabe (University of Manchester), and Charles Stiller, Childhood Cancer Research Group (University of Oxford), on request 2013.
Last reviewed:

Cancer stats explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.

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