Facts and statistics
The following are from the Office for National Statistics. Analysed by Dr. Robert Alston, Professor Jillian Birch and Professor Tim Eden.
Every day in the UK, six young people aged 13 to 24 are told they have cancer. That’s about 2,100 young people a year.
Cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental death in young adults in the UK.
One in 312 males and one in 361 females will get cancer before they are 20.
Boys up to the age of 15 have a one in 450 chance of developing cancer, rising to one in 208 by the time they reach 24. Girls up to the age of 15 have a one in 517 chance of developing cancer, rising to one in 239 by the time they reach 24.
Different cancers predominate at different ages: leukaemia, lymphomas and brain tumours in 13 to18 year-olds, and lymphomas, carcinomas (soft tissue cancers) and germ cell tumours (e.g. testicular cancer) in 19 to 24 year-olds.
Incidence rates are now higher in 13 to 24 year-olds than in children, yet survival rates for this age group have not improved as much.
In England, five year survival stats for teenage and young adults (TYA) are approximately 69% for males and 73% for females. However due to the spectrum of tumours arising in teenagers and young adults this varies from 89% for male germ cell tumours (e.g. testicular), to 42% for males with Leukaemia and 46% for bone sarcoma.
Young people get some of the most aggressive cancers. But because only 0.6% of all cancers occur in young people, they are often misdiagnosed initially. This decreases their chances of survival and can mean they are excluded from clinical trials.
61% of young people with cancer felt their diagnosis could have been made quicker. 21% of young patients reported that their GP’s did not refer them to a specialist at all, despite almost 59% presenting at least two of the most common cancer symptoms: pain, lump/swelling, tiredness, headache or drastic weight loss.