Lack of cancer prevention in young people leads to severe social and economic consequence
When it comes to cancer, most of us think of patients at a very advanced age, usually retirement age, who have been exposed to harmful factors for many years – in their personal and professional lives. Recent epidemiological data from countries in the European Union and the United States over the last 2-3 decades show a worrying steady trend of increasing numbers of cancer patients at a much younger age – so-called adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers. The concern is not only medical and scientific, but also social and economic.
These are people aged between 15 and 39 (by definition, adolescence covers the teenage years, and young adults are those in the third and fourth decade of life), who according to population data comprise approximately 40% of the world’s population.
After a gradual increase in the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in AYA in recent decades, these patients currently (2023) represent about 4% of all new cancer cases in countries with high socioeconomic standards. This implies the occurrence of 50 000-70 000 new cases of AYA cancer in Europe per year (according to EUROCARE-5). The good news is that cancer mortality in this age group does not follow the trend of incidence. Five-year survival in Europe for the most common tumours is around 87% (calculated for 30 187 cancer patients treated between 1994 and 2002, according to data from 83 cancer registries in 23 European countries). Unfortunately, Bulgaria is among the EU countries with the most negative indicators in this category, with one of the highest AYA mortality rates in Europe (ca. 11 per 100,000).
The full analysis is available here in Bulgarian.