• adolescents;
  • incidence;
  • oncology;
  • survival;
  • young adults



Descriptions of population-based data have rarely been published specifically for adolescents and young adults with cancer.


Data on young adults (15–24 years) diagnosed with cancer in the North of England from 1968 to 1997 were obtained from the Northern Region Young Person's Malignant Disease Registry. Temporal changes in incidence and survival rates were investigated.


There were 2,329 first cancers diagnosed over the study period (M:F 1.22:1). Overall age standardized incidence was 174 cases per million 15–24 years old, per year, 190 for males and 157 for females. The most common cancers in young adults were Hodgkin disease (19%), carcinomas (15%), central nervous system tumors (14%), germ cell tumors (13%), and leukemia (11%). Comparing incidence for 1968–1977 with 1988–1997 there were significant increases in the incidence of bone tumors (rate ratio 1.72, 95% CI 1.10–2.68), testicular tumors (rate ratio 1.64, 95% CI 1.16–2.32), thyroid cancer (rate ratio 2.63, 95% CI 1.37–5.02), and malignant melanoma (rate ratio 2.04, 95% CI 1.36–3.08). Survival rates improved significantly (P < 0.001) over the study period; 5-year survival rates over the three time periods 1968–1977, 1978–1987, 1988–1997 for all cancers were 45% (95% CI 41%–49%), 62% (95% CI 58%–65%), and 74% (95% CI 71%–77%) respectively.


Survival rates improved and there were significant increases in incidence for specific cancers in young adults in the North of England. Further research is required to identify the reasons for changing incidence and to investigate the late effects of treatment among survivors. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.