National Youth Day – Common Cancer in Young

National Youth Day – Common Cancer in Young

National Youth Day – Common Cancer in Young

National Youth Day is a unique holiday commemorating young people. The goal of the day is to encourage young people’s awareness, appreciation, and responsibility. Youth or adolescence is the most crucial stage of life since it allows us to explore who we are, the world around us, and most importantly, make decisions that will affect our future and way of life.

At present, everyone is at a highly complex time given the social, mental, and other health risks affecting our daily lives. Let’s explore some worrying lifestyle health risks with a focus on the youth populations.

Research till date have been shown that cancer diagnoses continue to rise in people between 15 and 39 years old.1

Cancer in young adults

Cancer occurs when genetic mutations cause cells grow uncontrollably and can occur in any organ or tissue of the body. 2

Cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) is defined by the National Cancer Institute as diagnoses occurring among those aged 15 to 39 years.3

The types of cancers seen in young adults are not unique to this age group, but the most common types in this age range are largely diverse from those in children or older adults.2

Some of the most common cancers in young adults are:2, 3

  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Lymphomas (non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin)
  • Melanoma
  • Leukemia
  • Sarcomas (cancers of connective tissues like muscles and bones)

Even though combating the disease is a difficult road for anybody, young adults with cancer face particular difficulties in a number of aspects, including their capacity to cope with the diagnosis and treatment as well as their capacity to endure side effects.

Risk factors: Knowing the causes of early-onset cancers could help with early detection, prevention, and therapy.4

  • A person’s risk of getting cancer is influenced by a variety of factors, such as their age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).6
  • As young people have been exposed to lifestyle risk factors for a shorter period of time than adults, they presumably have less of an impact on cancer risk than that of adult cancer risk. 6

However, latest research noted that plausible causes in rise are might due to exposure to potential risk factors such as: 5, 6

  • Western-style or unhealthy diet,
  • Obesity,
  • Physical inactivity,
  • Tobacco use,
  • Alcohol consumption,
  • Air pollution
  • Certain chronic infections are risk factors for cancer and attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus. Probably these factors both directly and indirectly enhance the risk of cancer.6

Long term effects and complications: Compared with older cancer patients, early-onset cancers in AYAs possess a higher risk of long-term and late effects like:1, 7

  • Impeded cognitive and physical functioning
  • Worse psychosocial functioning causing difficultly in coping with treatment and recovery during early-life transitions.
  • Problems with fertility, sexual dysfunction, and body image, particularly among women
  • Significant disruptions in school and work
  • Changes in functioning and appearance, leading to feelings of shame and isolation

Preventive measures:

Since lifestyle is a major contributor, lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in lowering the risk of developing cancer in AYAs. Here are some cancer-prevention tips for young people:1, 6

  • Avoiding tobacco use and quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Eating a balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables
  • Regular physical activity
  • Abstaining from or reducing alcohol use
  • Getting vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B if you belong to a group for which vaccination is advised.
  • Avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure and/or using sun protection measures;
  • Ensuring safe and appropriate use of radiation in health care (for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes)
  • Minimizing occupational exposure to ionizing radiation; and
  • Reducing exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution
  • Cervical cancers can be prevented through screening which allows for the removal of precancerous cells.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is recommended for females up to age 26 and, depending on risk.
  • Early diagnosis of symptomatic cancers is relevant in all settings and the majority of cancers.

Overall, cancer educational programs should be designed to reduce delays in, and barriers to, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care.

References:

  1. Special Section: Cancer in Adolescents and Young Adults, Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2020/special-section-cancer-in-adolescents-and-young-adults-2020.pdf, last accessed on 7th January 2023
  2. Types of Cancers That Develop in Young Adults, Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-in-young-adults/cancers-in-young-adults.html, last accessed on 7th January 2023
  3. Miller KD, Fidler-Benaoudia M, Keegan TH, Hipp HS, Jemal A, Siegel RL. Cancer statistics for adolescents and young adults, 2020. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020 Nov;70(6):443-459.
  4. Akimoto N, Ugai T, Zhong R, Hamada T, Fujiyoshi K, Giannakis M, Wu K, Cao Y, Ng K, Ogino S. Rising incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer – a call to action. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2021 Apr;18(4):230-243.
  5. Young people’s cancers statistics, Risk factors, Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/young-peoples-cancers#heading-Three, last accessed on 7th January, 2023
  6. WHO, Cancer, Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer, last accessed on 7th January, 2023
  7. Late and Long-term Effects of Cancer Treatment in Young Adults, Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-in-young-adults/late-effects.html, last accessed on 7th January 2023

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