A new national report on cancer from Canada states that young women between the ages of 20 and 44 are much more likely to die of cancer than young men.
The national report was conducted by the Cancer Care Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada on people aged 20 to 44, which was previously an understudied group. It was explained that the study looked into the trends from 1983 to 1999 based on cancer registries, with projections to 2005.
Dr. Loraine Marrett, director of the surveillance unit at Cancer Care Ontario, said, "Incidence of a number of more common cancers is increasing, for example, thyroid cancer incidence is increasing in both men and women more rapidly than any other cancer, yet we don't have a clear understanding of why this is happening."
Even as Marrett was of the opinion that there is not enough evidence of an environmental link for thyroid cancer, Meg Sears, a biochemical engineer and science analyst in Ottawa disagrees. Sears said, "Old people may get cancers because their cells have reproduced so many times they've got genetic changes and then things go wrong. But when young people get cancer it's either because of an infection or because of something else that's toxic in the environment."
It was explained that there could be a probability of a part of the rise being attributed to better diagnosis of thyroid cancer, but that alone cannot explain the higher incidence of the malignancy, which is highly curable if detected early. The cause of thyroid cancer is attributed to the exposure to radiation, especially during childhood.
The report suggested that the general rates of incidence of cancer for men have reduced considerably since 1992, which in turn shows a drop in more common cancers for the age group such as melanoma, lung and colorectal cancer. The report has also shown though that testicular cancer that is the most common cancer in men has increased by 2.2% per year.
Geoff Eaton of St. John's, who had survived two spells of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the ages of 22 and 25, and had started a support group and charity for young adults with cancer said that testicular cancer may be overlooked in part because older people tend not to get it.
The authors of the report stated finding that for the first time ever that young woman than young men are being diagnosed with and dying from lung cancer. Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy at the Canadian Cancer Society, stated that these findings clearly show the need for enhanced efforts for discouraging young Canadians, especially young women, from smoking.
The report also stated that there is an increased need for support for these persons as generally at the time of diagnosis they would be just about completing their education, acquiring jobs or settling into their own family, which could cause them, increased physical and emotional changes.
Easley, of Fredericton, who was 23 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma or cancer of the lymph system seven years ago said, "It kind of reminded me of having your wings clipped just when you're learning to fly on your own." She is currently undertaking her PhD on how the diagnosis of cancer interrupts the lives of young people, causing financial, sexual, and fertility problems.
Dr. Brent Schacter, CEO of the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies, has explained the importance of learning more about the long-term treatment risks and for developing therapies to reduce late effects such as reproductive problems or a second cancer.