Teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers incidence statistics

Cases

New cases of teenagers' and young adults' cancer, 2011-2013, UK

 

Proportion of all cases

Percentage teenagers' and young adults' cancer is of total cancer cases, 2011-2013, UK

 

Age

Age that more than half of teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers cases are diagnosed, 2000-2009, UK

Trend since 1970s

Teenagers' and young adults' cancers incidence rates have increased since the late 1970s, GB

 

In 2011-2013, there was an average of 2,286 new cases of cancer in teenagers and young adults per year in the UK:[1-4] 1,139 (50%) in males and 1,147 (50%) in females, giving a male:female ratio of around 10:10. The crude rate Open a glossary item shows that there are 271 new cancer cases for every million males aged 15-24 in the UK, and 283 for every million females aged 15-24.[1-4]

The European age-standardised incidence rates Open a glossary item (AS rates) in females is higher in Wales compared with England. Rates do not differ significantly between the other constituent countries of the UK for either sex.[1-4]

All Teenagers' and Young Adults' Cancers, Average Number of New Cases per Year, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per Million Population, Ages 15-24, UK, 2011-2013

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Male Cases 954 66 86 32 1,139
Crude Rate 271.6 313.6 248.6 256.2 271.4
AS Rate 271.9 313.3 248.0 259.3 271.6
AS Rate - 95% LCL 261.9 269.7 217.8 207.7 262.4
AS Rate - 95% UCL 281.8 357.0 278.2 310.9 280.7
Female Cases 951 69 96 31 1,147
Crude Rate 281.0 343.0 281.8 257.8 283.4
AS Rate 280.3 342.4 279.5 261.9 282.6
AS Rate - 95% LCL 270.0 295.7 247.2 209.0 273.2
AS Rate - 95% UCL 290.6 389.2 311.7 314.9 292.1
Persons Cases 1,905 135 183 64 2,286
Crude Rate 276.2 327.9 265.1 257.0 277.3
AS Rate 276.0 327.5 263.7 260.7 277.1
AS Rate - 95% LCL 268.9 295.6 241.6 223.7 270.5
AS Rate - 95% UCL 283.2 359.5 285.8 297.6 283.6

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits Open a glossary item around the AS Rate Open a glossary item

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

All teenage and young adult cancers for England, Wales and Scotland includes all malignant tumours excluding non-melanoma skin cancers (ICD-10 codes: C00-C97 excluding C44), and all benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours (ICD-10 codes: D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5, Northern Ireland data includes all the above codes except D33.7, D33.9, D43.7 and D43.9.

An analysis of cancer incidence rates throughout England reported very little geographical variation for all teenagers’ and young adults’ cancers combined.[5]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, February 2015. Similar data can be found here:http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, March 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. Alston RD, Rowan S, Eden TO, et al. Cancer incidence patterns by region and socioeconomic deprivation in teenagers and young adults in England. Br J Cancer 2007 96:1760-6.
Last reviewed:

The incidence of all cancers in 15-24 year-olds increases with age,[1] with the majority of cancers being diagnosed in those aged 20-24 (62% in the UK between 2000 and 2009) compared with 15-19 (38%). In males, the age-specific incidence rates rise from 188 per million in 15 year-olds to 329 per million in 24 year-olds, and in females from 154 to 368 per million, respectively.

All Teenage and Young Adult Cancers, Age-Specific Incidence Rates per Million Population, Ages 15-24, UK, 2000-2009

The age distributions vary considerably depending on subtype, however, with cancers showing various combinations of increases, plateaus and decreases in age-specific incidence rates across the age range.[9]

The largest rise in incidence between the ages of 15 and 24 occurs for cervical cancer with more than a hundred-fold increase in rates (from less than 1 per million in 15 year-olds to 56 per million in 24 year-olds).[1] The incidence rate for female breast cancer also rises dramatically with age with more than a fifty-fold increase in rates (from less than 1 per million in 15 year-olds to 22 per million in 24 year-olds). In males, the largest rise in incidence occurs for testicular germ cell tumours (GCTs) with a nine-fold increase in rates (from 12 per million in 15 year-olds to 107 per million in 24 year-olds). Other cancers showing large increases in incidence rates across the age range include malignant melanoma (seven- and eight-fold increases in males and females, respectively), and ovarian cancer (nine-fold increase).

None of the cancers show dramatic decreases in incidence rates between the ages of 15 and 24, though several show modest declines (between three- and six-fold).[1] These include osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing tumours and Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). In males, the largest decline in incidence across the age range occurs for osteosarcoma with more than a six-fold decrease in rates (from 13 per million in 15 year-olds to 2 per million in 24 year-olds), whilst in females the largest decline occurs for rhabdomyosarcoma with a five-fold decrease (from 3 to less than 1 per million, respectively).

Teenage and Young Adult Cancers by Cancer Type, Age-Specific Incidence Rates per Million Population, Ages 15-24, UK, 2000-2009

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Incidence rates for cancer in teenagers and young adults have increased by 55% in Great Britain since the late 1970s.[1-3] This includes a larger overall increase for females than for males.

For males aged 15-24, European age-standardised Open a glossary item (AS) incidence rates increased by 44% between 1979-1981 and 2011-2013. For females aged 15-24, rates increased by 69% in this period. Rates were generally higher in males than females until 2003-2005, and since then male and female rates have been similar.[1-3]

All Teenagers' and Young Adults' Cancers, European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Ages 15-24, Great Britain, 1979-2013

All teenage and young adult cancers for England, Wales and Scotland includes all malignant tumours excluding non-melanoma skin cancers (ICD-10 codes: C00-C97 excluding C44), and all benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours (ICD-10 codes: D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5).

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2002-2004 and 2011-2013), AS incidence rates for cancer in teenagers and young adults have increased by 9% for males and females combined, though this includes an increase of 16% for females aged 15-24, and stable rates for males aged 15-24 and increased by.[1-4]

All Teenagers' and Young Adults' Cancers, European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Ages 15-24, UK, 1993-2013

All teenage and young adult cancers for England, Wales and Scotland includes all malignant tumours excluding non-melanoma skin cancers (ICD-10 codes: C00-C97 excluding C44), and all benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours (ICD-10 codes: D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5, Northern Ireland data includes all the above codes except D33.7, D33.9, D43.7 and D43.9.

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

These trends include benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours because they account for a relatively high proportion of cases in this age group. However trends for these tumours are unreliable pre-2000s, and largely reflect improved data collection rather than true increased incidence. Percentage increases since the late 1970s and early 1990s are very slightly smaller if these tumours are excluded.

The percentage changes in AS incidence rates for eight cancer types in teenagers and young adults in the UK between 1995-1999 and 2005-2009 show varying trends for males and females.[5] In males, the largest increase in incidence has occurred for carcinomas, with the AS incidence rate rising by 30% over the time period. Several cancer types have seen large increases in AS incidence rates in females, including carcinomas (41% increase), germ cell tumours (33%) and malignant melanoma (32%). Some cancer types, such as malignant melanoma in males, have also shown large increases in incidence, but these percentage changes need to be interpreted with caution because they are based on relatively small numbers of cases and the increases are not statistically significant.[5]

Teenage and Young Adult Cancers by Cancer Type, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per Million Population, Males Aged 15-24, UK, 1995-2009

Darker bars denote significant change, lighter bars denote no change (non-significant)

Teenage and Young Adult Cancers by Cancer Type, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates per Million Population, Females Aged 15-24, UK, 1995-2009

Darker bars denote significant change, lighter bars denote no change (non-significant)

An analysis of longer-term incidence trends in those aged 13–24 in England between 1979 and 2003 showed significant increases for several cancer types and subtypes, including leukaemia, lymphomas, brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours, bone sarcoma, germ cell tumours (GCTs), malignant melanoma, and carcinomas of the thyroid, ovary, cervix, and bowel.[6] Of particular note, the incidence of malignant melanoma in this age-group almost doubled between the early 1980s and early 1990s, with the rate of increase slowing after the mid-1990s. The trends for most cancer types are thought to be ‘real’, rather than reflecting changes in coding or ascertainment. For malignant melanoma and cervical carcinomas, the risk factors are mainly understood and exposure to ultraviolet radiation (in relation to melanoma) and behavioural changes in young women affecting exposure to the human papillomavirus (in relation to carcinoma of the cervix) are likely to explain the trends. For other cancers, the risk factors are less clear and the trends less easily explained, however.[6,7] Increases in the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at all ages has been observed in many countries since the 1970s, although this may be due to coding changes and increased detection.[8] For ovarian carcinomas, the increase in incidence may be artefactual due to a coding change during the time period, when certain tumours that were previously coded as of ‘uncertain behaviour’ were classified as malignant.[7] Since this time there has been another coding change with an artefactual decrease in incidence observed for some age groups (data not shown).[9]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, February 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, March 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.
  5. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
  6. Alston RD, Geraci M, Eden TO, et al. Changes in cancer incidence in teenagers and young adults (ages 13 to 24 years) in England 1979-2003. Cancer 2008;113:2807-15.
  7. Birch JM, Alston RD, Kelsey AM, et al. Classification and incidence of cancers in adolescents and young adults in England 1979-1997. Br J Cancer 2002;87:1267-74.
  8. Adamson P, Bray F, Costantini AS, et al. Time trends in the registration of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas in Europe. Eur J Cancer 2007;43:391-401.
  9. UK Association of Cancer Registries. Library of recommendations on cancer coding and classification policy and practice. Accessed February 2013.
Last reviewed:

Cancers in teenagers and young adults are further classified into cancer type using the internationally accepted teenager and young adult classification system, which also takes morphology into account. The classification divides teenage and young adult cancers into ten cancer types (called diagnostic groups), with further subgroups and divisions.[1,2] It is similar, but not identical to, the system used for the classification of childhood tumours.[3]

The three most common cancer types in teenagers and young adults are lymphomas, carcinomas and germ cell tumours.[4]

Teenage and Young Adult Cancers by Cancer Type, Average Number of New Cases per Year, Ages 15-24, UK, 2000-2009

References

  1. Birch JM, Alston RD, Kelsey AM, et al. Classification and incidence of cancers in adolescents and young adults in England 1979-1997. Br J Cancer 2002;87:1267-74.
  2. Barr RD, Holowaty EJ, Birch JM. Classification schemes for tumors diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. Cancer 2006;106:1425-30.
  3. Steliarova-Foucher E, Stiller C, Lacour B, et al. International Classification of Childhood Cancer, third edition. Cancer 2005;103:1457-67.
  4. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Lymphomas form the most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in teenagers and young adults overall, accounting for 21% of the total cancers in this age group.[1] The numbers of cases are slightly higher in males than in females, with a male:female ratio of 12:10. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin’s disease), which accounts for around two-thirds (68%) of all lymphomas in 15-24 year olds, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (32%).

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Carcinomas (such as of the thyroid, cervix, bowel and ovary) form the second most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in 15-24 year-olds overall, accounting for 20% of the total cancers in this age group.[1] However, the numbers of cases are considerably higher in females than in males, with a male:female ratio of 3:10. Hence carcinomas form the most commonly diagnosed group in females (accounting for 31% of the total) compared with the fifth most common group in males (9% of the total). This disparity is due to the much higher incidence of carcinoma of the thyroid in females compared with males, and the higher incidence of the female-specific carcinomas (cervix, ovary and breast).

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on reference. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Germ cell tumours (GCTs) form the third most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in teenagers and young adults overall, accounting for 15% of the total cancers in this age group.[1] Around 90% of cases occur in males, however, making it the most commonly diagnosed group in 15-24 year-old males (accounting for 27% of the total) and the eighth most common in females (3% of the total). Testicular GCTs make up the majority of this group, with the remainder being ovarian GCTs and GCTs of non-gonadal sites (such as in the pineal gland in the brain, or elsewhere in the head, neck or chest).

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Brain, other CNS and intracranial tumours form the fourth most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in teenagers and young adults overall, accounting for 14% (7.5% malignant and 6.5% benign, uncertain or unknown) of the total cancers in this age group.[1] The numbers of cases are similar in males and females, with a male:female ratio of 11:10. This cancer type comprises a range of tumours, including astrocytoma, pituitary adenoma and craniopharyngioma.

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Malignant melanoma forms the fifth most common cancer in 15-24 year-olds overall, accounting for 11% of the total cancers in this age group.[1] The numbers of cases are around twice as high in females than in males, with a male:female ratio of 5:10. Hence, malignant melanoma forms the third most common cancer in females (accounting for 16% of the total) and the sixth most common in males (7%).

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Leukaemia forms the sixth most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in teenagers and young adults, accounting for around 9% of the total cancers in this age group[1]. The three main types in 15-24 year-olds: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukaemia, and chronic myeloid leukaemia. ALL is the most common, accounting for 46% of all leukaemias in teenagers and young adults. This contrasts with leukaemia incidence in childhood, where ALL accounts for around four-fifths of the total (78% in Great Britain between 1996 and 2005).[2]

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
  2. Data were provided by Stiller C (Childhood Cancer Research Group) on request.
Last reviewed:

Bone sarcoma forms the seventh most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in 15-24 year-olds, accounting for 5% of the total cases in this age group.[1] The numbers of cases are higher in males than in females, with a male:female ratio of 17:10. Osteosarcomas and Ewing tumours make up the majority of this group.

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) forms the eighth most commonly diagnosed group of cancers in teenagers and young adults (and the least common of the specified cancer types), accounting for 4% of the total cancers in 15-24 year-olds.[1] The numbers of cases are slightly higher in males than in females, with a male:female ratio of 13:10. This cancer type comprises a range of tumours, including rhabdomyosarcoma, synovial sarcomas and nerve sheath tumours.

References

  1. Data were provided by Public Health England Knowledge and Intelligence Team (North West) on request. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nwcis.nhs.uk/
Last reviewed:

A study of cancer incidence in 13-24 year-olds for the period 1979-2001 in England showed a general trend of lower incidence with increasing deprivation for all cancers.[1] Differing associations were shown by cancer type, however. Incidence of leukaemia overall was highest in the most deprived teenagers and young adults, although there was no significant trend by deprivation for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) separately; incidence of cervical cancer also showed a trend of higher incidence with increasing deprivation. In contrast, incidence of Hodgkin lymphoma, germ cell tumours (GCTs) and melanoma were all highest in the most affluent 13-24 year-olds.[1]

Last reviewed:

There is a lack of good quality data for the UK comparing incidence of cancer in teenage and young adults between different ethnic groups. A study conducted in Yorkshire Regional Health Authority found similar incidence rates of cancer overall between South Asians and non-South Asians aged 30 or younger between 1990 and 2005, but a much higher increase in the incidence rate over the study period in South Asians (7% per year) compared with non-South Asians (1.5% per year).[1] Data for 15-19 year-olds in the US between 1986 and 1995 showed that incidence rates were about 1.5 times higher in Whites compared with Blacks overall, and incidence rates were at least two-fold higher in Whites than Blacks for ALL, germ cell tumours (GCTs) (males only), thyroid cancer, Ewing tumour and melanoma.[2] With the exception of melanoma, the reasons for these differences are unclear.

References

  1. van Laar M, McKinney PA, Parslow RC, et al. Cancer incidence among the south Asian and non-south Asian population under 30 years of age in Yorkshire, UK. Br J Cancer 2010 103:1448-52.
  2. Smith M, Gurney J, Gloeckler Ries L. Cancer among adolescents 15-19 years old. In: Ries L, Smith M, Gurney J, et al., eds. Cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents: United States SEER program 1975-1995. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, SEER Programme; 1999.
Last reviewed:

Although cancer registration has a long history in many countries of the world, particularly in the more affluent regions such as the UK, nearly 80% of the world’s populations live in regions that are not covered by such systems.[1] Nonetheless, with a view to characterising the global burden of the disease, the International Agency for Research on Cancer routinely uses the available data to estimate worldwide cancer incidence.[2]

It is estimated that there were around 173,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in teenagers and young adults worldwide in 2008.[3] Incidence rates tend to be higher in more developed regions and lower in developing regions, with a greater than three-fold variation in world AS incidence rates between the regions of the world.[4]

Within the 27 countries of the European Union, there were an estimated 14,700 cases of cancer in teenagers and young adults in 2008.[3] In a European registry study, the age-specific incidence rate for all cancers (including skin carcinomas) in 15-19 year-olds in 19 European countries was found to increase from 147 per million in the 1970s to 165 in the 1980s and 193 in the 1990s.[5] The largest increases were for carcinomas (average annual percentage change, AAPC, of 3.9%), followed by soft tissue sarcomas (2.6%), lymphomas (2.4%), germ cell tumours (GCTs) (1.7%) and CNS tumours (1.4%).[6]

In the US, the age-specific incidence rate for all cancers (including skin carcinomas) in 2000-2009 was 220 per million for persons aged 15-19 and 371 per million in 20–24 year-olds. Incidence rates for most diagnostic groups have increased significantly in both age-groups since 1975, with AAPCs ranging from 0.6% to 1.3%. The exceptions to this are soft tissue sarcomas (STSs), for which incidence did not increase in either age-group over the period, and carcinomas, for which incidence only increased in 15–19 year-olds.[7]

References

  1. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. Estimates of worldwide burden of cancer in 2008: GLOBOCAN 2008. Int J Cancer 2010 127:2893-917.
  2. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v2.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr. Accessed February 2013.
  3. Data were provided by Ferlay J (International Agency for Research on Cancer) on request.
  4. World age-standardised rates for cancer in 15-24 year-olds calculated by the Cancer Research UK Statistical Information Team, September 2012, using data provided by Jacques Ferlay (International Agency for Research on Cancer).
  5. Stiller CA, Desandes E, Danon SE, et al. Cancer incidence and survival in European adolescents (1978-1997). Report from the Automated Childhood Cancer Information System project. Eur J Cancer 2006;42:2006-18.
  6. Steliarova-Foucher E, Stiller C, Kaatsch P, et al. Geographical patterns and time trends of cancer incidence and survival among children and adolescents in Europe since the 1970s (the ACCISproject): an epidemiological study. Lancet 2004;364:2097-105.
  7. Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al., eds. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2009 (Vintage 2009 Populations). Bethesda, MD. : National Cancer Institute; Based on November 2011 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2012. http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2009_pops09/. Accessed February 2013.
Last reviewed:

Cancer Statistics Explained

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

Citation

You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.

Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year]. 

Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK. 

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 2.4 out of 5 based on 5 votes
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page