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Experts warn of rising cancer cases among people under 50

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Health experts have raised concerns over the increasing incidence of cancer among individuals under the age of 50, with recent studies indicating a significant surge in diagnoses over the past few decades.

A study published in BMJ Oncology last year revealed a startling trend, showing that the rate of under-50s diagnosed with 29 common cancers had surged by nearly 80% between 1990 and 2019. This has raised alarms among researchers, who predict a further 30% increase in new cancer cases among younger adults by the end of this decade, particularly in wealthy countries.

Despite advancements in cancer treatment and survival rates over the years, the number of deaths among under-50s from cancer has also seen a considerable uptick, rising by nearly 28% over the last 30 years.

Describing the situation as an "epidemic" of young adult cancer, Shivan Sivakumar, a cancer researcher at the University of Birmingham, highlighted the concerning trend observed in clinics. He emphasized the need for further research to understand the underlying causes of this rise.

While breast cancer remains the most common among individuals under 50, experts are particularly concerned about the increasing prevalence of gastrointestinal cancers, such as those affecting the colon, pancreas, liver, and esophagus, in younger adults.

Several theories have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, including early exposure to known cancer risk factors like tobacco smoke, alcohol, and obesity. However, the exact reasons behind the surge remain unclear, with researchers suggesting a combination of factors may be at play.

Efforts to address the rising incidence of colorectal cancer among younger adults include lowering the recommended age for screening, as done in the US in 2021. However, experts emphasize the importance of consulting a doctor if any symptoms or concerns arise, urging individuals to prioritize their health and seek timely medical attention.

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