Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New research identifies specific teenage and young adult cancers and points to possible causes

30.03.2006
An analysis of new data by a leading cancer researcher has revealed specific cancers that are most likely to affect teenagers and young adults, and it points to infections, adolescent growth spurts, and hormones as being among the possible causes. Now, international collaborative research is needed to find out more.

Professor Jillian Birch told a news briefing at the 4th International Conference on Teenage and Young Adult Cancer Medicine, organised by the charity Teenage Cancer Trust, that her analysis of a new data set [1] of more than 16 million cases of cancer in people aged between 0 and 79 in England during the period 1995-2003 showed that there was a category of cancers that had a peak incidence between the ages of 13 to 24.

“These can be regarded as ‘true’ teenage and young adult cancers that typically occur specifically in this age group, rather than being either the tail-end of childhood cancers, the majority of which occur below the age of 10, or the unusually early development of cancers typical of older ages, most of which occur over the age of 60,” said Professor Birch, who is Cancer Research UK Professorial Fellow at the University of Manchester.

“We already knew from our earlier research that the most common groups of cancers in teenagers and young adults are lymphomas, germ cell tumours, leukaemias, brain tumours, bone tumours and soft tissue sarcomas. However, unlike the childhood embryonal tumours, these groups of cancers can be seen at all ages. This new research shows that there are specific types of cancers within these groups that show a main peak of incidence in 13 to 24-year-olds. These are: Hodgkin lymphoma, osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, certain rare soft tissue sarcomas (such as alveolar soft part sarcoma), germ cell tumours of the testis and ovary, and germ cell tumours in the brain.

“These tumours together represent one third of all cancers in 13 to 24-year-olds.”

Professor Birch said that the pattern of incidence had implications for discovering and understanding the causes of teenage and young adult (TYA) cancers.

“It is a frequently held view that there is no such thing as ‘teenage cancers’ in the sense that embryonal tumours typify cancers of early childhood. Our research shows that there is, and, having identified the very specific types that are TYA cancers, we are able to find clues as to why teenagers and young adults get cancer. These point to infections, adolescent growth spurts, hormones and other growth and development factors as among the most probable causes.

“Considering these ‘true’ TYA cancers, there is quite a lot of evidence suggesting that infections, particularly the pattern and timing of infections, are causally involved in Hodgkin lymphoma. While the Epstein-Barr virus has been implicated already, this would only account for a proportion of cases. Other infectious agents involved in causation of Hodgkin lymphoma have yet to be discovered.

“Osteosarcoma is a tumour that occurs predominantly in the long bones of the legs (73% of all cases) and arms (10% of all cases) and has a very pronounced peak of incidence during the teenage years. There is a slightly earlier age peak of incidence in girls than in boys, coinciding with the adolescent growth spurt. We can speculate that pre-cancerous genetic changes occur in the bone tissue during childhood and that during periods of rapid growth in teenagers, further genetic damage occurs, resulting in conversion of pre-malignant cells to malignant, leading to the formation of a bone cancer. A similar age of onset pattern is also seen for Ewing sarcoma of bone and the causal mechanisms may be related.

“Most testicular cancers, at whatever age, are germ cell tumours and it is well known that these show a peak incidence in young adult males. In contrast, most ovarian cancers are carcinomas (cancers that arise from the epithelium), and ovarian cancers in general show a peak incidence over the age of 60. However, our analysis has demonstrated that germ cell tumours of the ovary are most frequent in older teenagers. Furthermore, the same is true for germ cell tumours in the brain. It seems possible that hormonal and other factors affecting growth and development before and after birth are implicated in the development of germ cell tumours.”

Professor Birch was able to reach these conclusions because of the way she analysed the data. “The data set included over 14,000 cases in 13 to 24-year-olds. Normally cancer statistics are presented in terms of the site in the body at which the cancers occur, but this is not satisfactory for cancers in young people which tend to be more specialised, and therefore we analysed the data set according to the types of cells and tissues involved in the cancers.”

Cancers in teenagers and young adults are rare, but they are the leading cause of death, after accidents, in this age group. In the UK, there are about 1,900 new cases each year [2], and in England there are about 1,600 new cases, including an average of 230 Hodgkin lymphomas, 46 osteosarcomas, 40 Ewing sarcomas and 230 germ cell tumours. These small numbers make it difficult for researchers to investigate the causes properly and Professor Birch called for international collaboration in order to obtain the large numbers needed.

“In order to develop and explore our ideas about the causes of TYA cancers, we need international collaborative studies. Such studies should incorporate biological analyses, as well as more classical approaches, and should consider the mechanisms by which the cancers start, as well as the causes. Until we understand the causes and mechanisms of TYA cancers it will be difficult for us to make significant progress in preventing them and treating them more effectively,” she concluded.

Notes for editor

[1] Data provided by the National Cancer Intelligence Centre, Office for National Statistics, London.

[2] Jill Birch’s figures exclude carcinoma in situ of the cervix and non-melanoma skin cancers. They are the most up-to-date figures on incidence available for this age group and supersede previous estimates.

Glossary:

1. Embryonal tumours are usually malignant tumours that arise from the rudiments of an organ or from immature tissue during intrauterine or early postnatal development.

2. Ewing sarcoma is a malignant bone cancer.

3. The Epstein-Barr virus is a member of the herpes family of viruses and the cause of glandular fever.

4. Germ cell tumours begin in cells that, in a developing foetus, become sperm or egg cells. Because of the way a baby develops in the womb, these kinds of tumours are found in the ovaries and testes, and in other sites along the midline of the body, such as the brain.

Emma Mason | alfa
Further information:
http://www.mac.com
http://www.teenagecancertrust.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>