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Kate’s Diagnosis Is A Warning For Those Under 50

| Updated: March 29, 2024 11:48

Preventive screening to detect the disease early is being seen as a vital option 

With Kate Middleton’s recent revelation that she has cancer, the focus is now on the possibility of younger people getting the disease. The 42-year-old Princess of Wales said she had been diagnosed after an abdominal surgery in January this year. 

Once considered a disease that the elderly were hit with, cancer is now striking younger people. Studies show that cancer cases in the 40-50 age group are rising. Preventive screening to detect the disease early is being seen as a vital option. 

According to a study published in the ‘British Medical Journal’ (BMJ), there has been a nearly 80% rise in early onset of 29 different cancers between 1990 and 2019. Experts say that globally early-onset cancers will rise by a further 31% by 2030, with the 40-50 age group being at the highest risk. 

Lifestyle factors

Scientists are urgently investigating potential causes, including environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and genetic predispositions. 

Doctors say that unhealthy lifestyles – consuming processed foods, sedentary habits, smoking, and environmental toxins – especially in affluent countries, are to blame for the early onset of cancer. In fact, they say lifestyle has a greater role to play than genetics in this regard. Increasing obesity and late motherhood are two other factors that increase the risk of cancer. 

Studies have linked obesity and alcohol consumption among the youth to an increased risk of colo-rectal cancer. One study puts the mean age of onset for this type of cancer at 47, with more cases being among men. There has reportedly been a rise in pancreatic cancer among women aged between 25 and 49 years. 

Importance of screening

Young people often ignore their symptoms as they believe they are unlikely to be because of cancer. That’s why younger patients are often diagnosed late. Also, they may have atypical symptoms that can be attributed to other causes. Early-onset cancers seen in youngsters are also likely to be more aggressive.   

The rise in young-onset cancer cases is not confined to any single region but is a global phenomenon, as evidenced by data from the World Health Organization.

Kate Middleton’s diagnosis has stressed the importance of regular health screenings and the need for more research into the causes of young-onset cancer. 

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