Concerning Trends Compounding the Costs

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“Escalating cancer prevalence points to an increasing demand for cancer care services and underscores the utility of studies that examine the cost of cancer care in formulating future directions and research priorities,” wrote the authors of this analysis, suggesting its connection with the concerning trend of increasing rates of cancer in younger adult patients.

In particular, the populations of people in the millennial (20 to 39 years) and generation X (40 to 54 years) generations are experiencing increased incidence of colorectal cancer, according to results from a 2017 study.2 This comes at a time when the incidence of colorectal cancer is declining in generations older than generation X.2

It seems, then, that screening and prevention continue to be the best immediate interventions. “Beyond awaiting scientific discovery and the widespread adoption of healthier living, meaningful action can be taken to mitigate premature morbidity and mortality from this disease through educational campaigns about the importance of timely follow-up of CRC [colorectal cancer] symptoms, regardless of patient age, and age-appropriate screening,” concluded the authors of the colorectal incidence study.2 

Though the cause(s) of elevated incidence of colorectal cancer in younger adult generations is unknown, changing trends in cancer among young adults do not appear limited to colorectal cancer. Results from a recent report indicated young American women now experience a higher incidence of lung cancer than young men, a reversal of a bias toward males that is not explained by sex differences in smoking. The incidence of lung cancer also rose in young Hispanics in the United States.3 

With these trends of significantly higher costs of care for cancer in younger patients and rising incidence among the population, a cancer-money storm could be on the near horizon. Early detection seems the optimal way for both clinical and financial outcomes.

Megan Garlapow is a medical writer based in Tempe, Arizona. 


1. Banegas MP, Yabroff KR, O’Keefe-Rosetti MC, et al. Medical care costs associated with cancer in integrated delivery systems. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2018;16(4):402-410.

2. Siegel RL, Fedewa SA, Anderson WF, et al. Colorectal cancer incidence patterns in the United States, 1974-2013. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017;109(8).

3. Jemal A, Miller KD, Ma J, et al. Higher lung cancer incidence in young women than young men in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(21):1999-2009.