Slideshow: 9 Key Findings from ACS Researchers’ Study of Cancer in People Ages 15 to 39

Scientists have known for a long time that childhood cancers are not the same as adult cancers. The number of cases, the biology of the tumors, the treatments needed, and the survival rates are all different. More recently, researchers have recognized that cancers in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are also distinct.

Cancers in this group, which covers ages 15 to 39, are the focus of a new report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians on September 17, 2020. “Cancer Statistics for Adolescents and Young Adults, 2020" was co-written by American Cancer Society (ACS) researchers Kim Miller, MPH, Rebecca Siegel, MPH, and others. The AYA statistics were overviewed earlier this year in the special section of Cancer Facts & Figures, 2020.

The report details the cancer incidence and mortality rates in AYAs, which describe the frequency with which new cases and deaths occur in a given population. The researchers looked at rates and trends by sex and race/ethnicity, across 3 smaller age groups:

  • Ages 15 to 19 (referred to as adolescents or teens)
  • Ages 20 to 29
  • Ages 30 to 39 

In the report, ACS researchers estimate that in 2020, there will be approximately 89,500 new cancer cases and 9,270 deaths from cancer in AYAs. Cancer incidence rates are highest in non-Hispanic Whites and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islanders (83 vs 54 per 100,000 people). However, mortality rates for all cancers combined are highest in non-Hispanic Black AYAs despite having 25% lower incidence rates than non-Hispanic White AYAs.

Choose an image below to start the slideshow for details on the types of cancer that are most common in each age group and how they differ from cancers in children and older adults.