What are the most common cancers in adolescents and young adults?

According to expert Daniel Stark, brain tumors have barely changed their epidemiology in recent years

It has happened to many of us. We heard that an acquaintance under the age of 40 was found to have cancer and had to be operated on and subjected to harsh treatments.

And we are probably wondering why it is happening to that person at such a young age.

They may not be as common as in adults over 60, but people between the ages of 15 and 39 are not without risk and can also develop cancer.

In fact, believing that this disease is “a thing for older people” can cause late detection and an irreversible prognosis.

The most common cancers in young adults

According to several specialists and different public health organizations consulted by BBC Mundo, some of the most common cancers or groups of cancers between 15 and 39 years of age worldwide are:
• Brain tumors
• Breast cancer
• Cervical cancer
• Carcinomas: especially in the digestive system
• Cancer in the genitals (testicles and ovaries)
• Thyroid cancer
• Lymphomas

Because many important morphologic changes occur between the ages of 15 and 39, the incidence of these cancers varies considerably by age. “For example, between 29 and 39, carcinomas are much more common than at earlier ages,” Dr. Annalisa Trama, a specialist at the National Tumor Institute of Milan in Italy, explains to BBC Mundo.

“In younger age groups, leukemias, lymphomas, nervous system cancers, sarcomas and genital tumors are more common,” Trama expands.

The incidence of cancers also varies by gender. Women are more likely to develop cancer of the breast, thyroid, cervix, and ovaries.

“While in men the most common diagnoses are lymphomas, testicular cancer, leukemia and thyroid,” says the specialist.

In the case of leukemia, it is a cancer with a higher incidence in adolescents. “It is a disease that becomes less common beyond 8-10 years of age,” says Stark.

Which are the most dangerous?
According to Professor Stark, the tumors that represent the greatest challenge for adolescents and young adults are brain tumors and carcinomas, especially those located in the digestive tract.

“Brain tumors are a challenge because the possibilities of treatment and recovery prognosis are extremely poor,” says the specialist. According to the British National Health Service (NHS), brain tumors can manifest with headaches, seizures, dizziness, recurrent nausea, memory problems, personality changes, progressive weakness and paralysis in one part of the body, and vision or vision problems. speech.

In the case of tumors of the digestive system, the challenge is that they are still a “changing area in cancer epidemiology”.

“We are seeing a rapid increase in carcinomas in this area in young adults in the last 10-15 years. It is a disease that we almost never saw but that is now far from unusual, ”says Stark.

According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms of digestive tract cancers may include loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss, abdominal pain and discomfort, a feeling of fullness after a light meal, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling , blood in the stool and anemia.

The organization clarifies that these symptoms are also common to other diseases, but if they persist, a doctor should be consulted to clarify the causes.