The incidence of early-onset cancers has been increasing in recent years, according to a population-based study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers analyzed data from 562,145 patients with early-onset cancers (diagnosed before age 50). Patients were included in 17 SEER registries between 2010 and 2019.

The rate of early-onset cancers increased 0.74% over the period studied, from 56,051 in 2010 to 56,468 in 2019.

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The incidence rate of early-onset cancer was 99.96 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2010 and 102.97 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2019. The annual percentage change (APC) was 0.28% (P =.01).

Age-standardized incidence rates of early-onset cancer increased in women (APC, 0.67%; P =.001) but decreased in men (APC, −0.37%; P <.001).

Mean APCs increased in American Indian or Alaska Native patients (1.97%; P <.001), Asian or Pacific Islander patients (0.97%; P =.007), and Hispanic patients (1.43%; P <.001). Mean APCs were stable in White patients (0.04%; P =.77) and decreased in Black patients (−0.47%; P =.007).

When the researchers looked at individual age groups, they found that the incidence of early-onset cancers increased in patients who were 30-39 years of age (APC, 0.91%; P =.002) but remained stable in all other age groups.

When the researchers looked at individual cancers, they found that, in 2019, the cancers with the highest number of incident early-onset cases were breast (n=12,649), thyroid (n=5869), and colorectal (n=4097) cancers.

Overall, the researchers found the greatest increases in incidence rates for cancers of the gastrointestinal system (APC, 2.16%; P <.001), urinary system (APC, 1.34%; P =.003), and female reproductive system (APC, 0.93%; P =.008).

The greatest decreases in incidence rates occurred in cancers of the respiratory system (APC, −4.57%; P <.001), male reproductive system (APC, −1.75%; P <.001), and brain and nervous system (APC, −0.99%; P =.01).

“This nationwide cohort study found that the incidence of early-onset cancers continued to increase in the US from 2010 to 2019,” the researchers concluded. “While breast cancer had the highest number of incident cases, gastrointestinal cancers had the fastest-growing incidence rates among all early-onset cancers. These data may have implications for the development of surveillance strategies and funding priorities.”

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Koh B, Tan DJH, Ng CH, et al. Patterns in cancer incidence among people younger than 50 years in the US, 2010 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6:e2328171. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.28171