Younger patients, aged 50 to 64, are more likely to be diagnosed with late stage lung cancer than older patients according to new data being presented at the Cancer Outcomes and Data Conference in Manchester.
There are around 45,500 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the UK every year. Around six in 10 cases are in people over 70. Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
Cancer diagnoses in middle-aged men and women have soared by nearly 20% in a generation as screening picks up more cases and smoking, drinking, obesity and unfitness continue to take a toll.
“Our results show that younger patients in their 50s and early 60s are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced lung cancer compared to patients in older age groups,” said David Kennedy, data and research analyst at Cancer Research UK, a cancer charity.
“Further analysis will focus on understanding this relationship to see if a similar pattern is present for other types of cancer,” Kennedy noted.
To explore the association of early and late stage lung cancer and age, the researchers examined the records of around 34,000 lung cancer patients in England in 2013. Previous research shows that older patients may be diagnosed with certain cancers such as bladder and lung at an earlier stage compared to younger patients, but this is the first time this relationship has been explored using lung cancer data
“It’s not clear exactly why younger patients are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, but what’s important is that the disease is caught early,” Julie Sharp, head of health and patient information at Cancer Research UK, noted.
“Signs of lung cancer can include a cough that won’t go away or being short of breath. It’s vital that when people spot something unusual for them, they go to their doctor as soon as possible. Detecting cancer early is crucial as it offers the best chance of successfully treating the disease,” Sharp said.