April 23, 2024

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New Data Shows Rising Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Young Adults

New Data Shows Rising Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Young Adults

New Data Shows Rising Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Young Adults

Latest Cancer Mortality Rate Statistics Predict an Increase in Colorectal Cancer Mortality among Young People.

The number and trend predictions of cancer mortality reflect the impact of cancer incidence, cancer screening, and treatment advances for different cancer sites, helping to assess the disease burden and guiding prevention, diagnosis, and medical management resource allocation.

On January 28, 2024, a research team from the University of Milan in Italy published an article titled “European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2024 with focus on colorectal cancer” in the Annals of Oncology.

They evaluated the numbers and mortality rates of all cancer deaths in the UK, the entire European Union (EU), and its five major countries based on research data published since 2011, and made predictions for 2024.

The overall analysis shows that the mortality trends for most cancers have improved over the past few decades.

However, the pancreatic cancer mortality rate among male patients in the EU has not improved, and the rate among female patients has increased.

Additionally, the mortality rate for female lung cancer has stabilized in recent years.

Due to the high incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer (CRC), and its recent unfavorable trend among young people in the United States and other high-income countries, the team also conducted a focused analysis on CRC.

New Data Shows Rising Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Young Adults

Key Findings

Compared to 2018 data, researchers calculated the estimated cancer mortality and incidence rates for 2024. In the EU, it is estimated that the overall cancer mortality rate for males will decrease from 131.8 per 100,000 to 123.2 per 100,000, and for females from 82.6 per 100,000 to 79.0 per 100,000. However, due to population aging, the number of deaths in the EU is expected to increase; in the UK, it is estimated that the overall cancer mortality rate for males will decrease from 120.3 per 100,000 to 103.7 per 100,000, and for females from 92.6 per 100,000 to 83.4 per 100,000. However, the number of deaths is expected to increase from 91,059 for males to 92,000, and from 79,631 for females to 80,900. And except for female CRC, the age-standardized rates (ASRs) for all cancers are expected to be favorable; in the EU, in 2024, lung cancer is still the most common cancer in males, followed by CRC and prostate cancer, with a lower lung cancer ASR; among females, lung cancer is expected to have the highest ASR in 2024, followed by breast cancer, with a higher lung cancer ASR.

The research team also analyzed the trends in overall cancer mortality rates for males and females from 1970-1974 to 2015-2019, as well as the predicted ASR for 2024. The ASR for male gastric cancer has been declining throughout the period, while the ASR for most other sites of cancer began to decline in the early 1990s. The ASR for female gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, and leukemia has been declining since 1970, and the incidence rates for breast cancer and ovarian cancer have been declining since 1990. However, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer have shown unfavorable trends throughout the period.

Subsequently, researchers focused on CRC, providing a joinpoint analysis of CRC for all ages and selected age groups in the EU and the UK from 1970 to 2024. In the EU, CRC mortality rates for all age groups and age groups have been declining in recent decades. In the UK, however, mortality rates for CRC in the 25-49 age group have increased since around 2000 for both males and females.

Finally, researchers also calculated the estimated number of cancer deaths avoided in the EU and the UK for men and women from 1989 to 2024. Over these 36 years, the EU has avoided a total of 6,183,000 deaths from all cancers (444,000 for males and 1,939,000 for females); the UK has avoided 1,325,000 deaths (899,000 for males and 426,000 for females). They also calculated the estimated number of deaths avoided due to CRC, 958,300 in the EU (308,900 for males and 649,400 for females); and 205,100 in the UK (100,500 for males and 104,600 for females).


Overall, the predicted cancer mortality rate for 2024 shows a downward trend in the EU, the five most populous countries in the EU, and the UK. In the EU, the cancer incidence rate among males decreased by 6.5%, and among females by 4.3%. However, the number of deaths is still increasing, due to population growth and aging. The EU is expected to have 1,270,800 deaths in 2024, while the UK is expected to have 17,900 deaths.

CRC is the second leading cause of cancer death and the leading cause of death among non-smokers, both male and female. In the EU and the UK, mortality rates for all ages and genders have been declining, but in recent years, mortality rates among young people aged 25-49 have been on the rise, which requires attention.

The overall downward trend in CRC mortality can be largely attributed to improved diagnosis of colorectal lesions, removal of adenomas and tumor lesions through colonoscopy, and advances in clinical management and treatment. In countries where screening, early diagnosis, and high-level care are more accessible, mortality rates have declined.

Since the 1990s, the incidence and mortality rates of CRC among people under 50 in the United States have been increasing, followed by similar findings in other high-income countries. Studies have shown that lifestyle factors including overweight, obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, alcohol intake, and dietary habits are associated with CRC. The increase in incidence among young people has prompted experts to recommend lowering the age for CRC screening, and there is a need for further development of updated population-based CRC screening guidelines.

In summary, the 2024 predictions for cancer mortality rates in the EU are still favorable. To improve and maintain the trend of cancer mortality rates in Europe, it is necessary to continue tobacco control and smoking cessation advocacy. Additionally, increasing attention to overweight and obesity, improving dietary patterns, controlling alcohol intake, implementing population screening for early diagnosis, are key strategies for cancer prevention. Special attention should also be paid to the persistent high cancer mortality rates in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the rising trend in CRC mortality rates among young people in the UK and other European countries, suggesting consideration of starting CRC screening from ages 45-49.

New Data Shows Rising Colorectal Cancer Mortality in Young Adults

1. C. Santucci et al. European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2024 with focus on colorectal cancer. Annals of Oncology
2. Bretthauer M, Loberg M, et al. Effect of colonoscopy screening on risks of colorectal cancer and related death. N Engl J Med. 2022;387(17):1547-1556.
3. US Preventive Services Task ForceDavidson KW, Barry MJ, Mangione CM, et al. Screening for colorectal cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. J Am Med Assoc. 2021;325(19):1965-1977.

(source:internet, reference only)

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