There are around 2,400 new cancer cases in young people in the UK every year, that’s more than 6 everyday.

This age group is referred to as ‘teenage and young adult’ or ‘TYA’.

TYA cancers bridge the gap between paediatric and adult oncology: many of the childhood cancers no longer feature and adult cancers begin to make up a significant proportion of the overall cancer burden. For more statistics specific to childhood cancers, take a look at our Facts and Figures page.

 

Although relatively rare, compared with cancer in adults, cancer is more common in TYA than in children. Cancer in young people accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases. Cancer statistics for adults are generally classified according to the site of the tumour in the body, such as lung, bowel, breast. TYA cancers, however, are more appropriately classified using a system that also takes into account the type of cell and tissue from which the cancer originates. This system is similar, but not identical, to the system used for the classification of childhood tumours.

  • In female young people in the UK, there are around 1,200 new cancer cases in the UK every year
  • In male young people in the UK, there are around 1,100 new cancer cases in the UK every year
  • Among young people in the UK, cancer incidence rates are highest in those aged 20-24 (2015-2017)
  • Since the early 1990s, incidence rates for cancers in young people have increased by more than a quarter (28%) in the UK. Over the last decade, incidence rates for cancers in young people have increased by a tenth (10%) in the UK
  • Lymphomas are the most common group of cancers in young people
  • Other carcinomas and melanomas are the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in young people. Other carcinomas and melanomas, lymphomas, and germ cell tumours together account for around two-thirds of all cancers diagnosed in UK young people (1997-2016)
  • Although making up a smaller proportion of cases overall, the incidence rate of CNS tumours is the same in childhood and TYA

 

 

Survival from TYA cancer types is improving. Almost 9 in 10 (87%) of TYAs diagnosed with cancer in the UK now survive for at least five years.

  • Survival for young people’s cancer types is improving and has increased since the 1990’s in the UK
  • In the 1990s, around three-quarters of young people diagnosed with cancer survived their disease beyond five years, now it’s more than 8 in 10
  • Throughout Europe, young people cancer survival is highest in Northern Europe, lowest in the Eastern region and survival for England is below the average for Europe
  • Survival has increased for some diagnostic groups since the 1990s, but by varying amounts and at different points in time. Survival has not improved significantly for neuroblastomas, kidney tumours, liver tumours, or other and unspecified tumours in this period

 

There are around 270 cancer deaths in young people in the UK every year, that’s nearly 1 every day (2016-2018).

  • Cancer in young people accounts for less than 1% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2016-2018)
  • Over the last decade, mortality rates for cancers in young people have decreased by around than a fifth (19%) in the UK. Rates in females have remained stable, and rates in males have decreased by almost a quarter (22%)
  • In female young people in the UK, there are around 110 cancer deaths in the UK every year (2016-2018)
  • In male young people in the UK, there are around 160 cancer deaths in the UK every year (2016-2018)
  • Leukaemia is the most common cause of young people’s cancer death
  • Since the early 1970’s, mortality rates for cancers in young people have decreased by around three-fifths (58%) in the UK. Rates in females have decreased by almost three-fifths (56%), and rates in males have decreased by around three-fifths (59%)

These statistics were provided by Cancer Research UK (September 2021).

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