Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cancer Causes Control. 2005 Apr;16(3):309-20.

Cancer incidence patterns among adolescents and young adults in the United States.

Author information

  • 1Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health Epidemiology, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.



The purpose of this study was to examine age-specific cancer incidence patterns among adolescents and young adults (ages 15--49).


Cancer incidence data for 1995--1999 from 22 population-based central cancer registries, covering about 47% of the US population, were used. Relative frequencies and average annual age-specific incidence rates per 100,000 person-year were computed for the five-year age groups from age 15--19 years through 45--49 years. Tests of significance for comparison were at a level of p<0.05.


The age at crossover from a predominance of non-epithelial cancers to a predominance of epithelial cancers during adolescence and young adulthood varied by gender and race. Epithelial cancer became the predominant type of tumor after age 40 years among males while it was the predominant type after age 25 years among females. There was also a shift in the top five cancer types with increasing age, which varied by race and gender. Epithelial cancers of the thyroid, breast, ovary, and cervix uteri started to increase sharply among young women in their 20s while among males epithelial cancers rarely occurred until the early 30s (ages 30--34). Cancers of the female breast, colon and rectum, and lung began to occur at an earlier age and increased more sharply among blacks than among whites. However, the incidence rates of epithelial thyroid and ovarian cancers rose more quickly among whites than blacks. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and soft tissue sarcoma (excluded Kaposi's sarcoma) increased with age among both whites and blacks but the rates were significantly higher among blacks than among whites. Both Kaposi's sarcoma and testicular cancer incidence increased with age and peaked in the early 30s (ages 30--34). The former was significantly higher among blacks than whites while the latter was significantly higher among whites than blacks. Cervical cancer incidence leveled off when white women reached their 30s, but for black women the rate continued to rise with advancing age. Cutaneous melanoma rates were significantly higher among females than among males between the ages of 15 and 39. Conclusion Cancer incidence patterns among adolescents and young adults are distinctive. Specific cancer prevention and control strategies should be targeted accordingly and tailored to their specific needs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk