Common cancers in adolescents Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Adolescence, spanning 15-19 years of age, is a time of developmental transition from childhood to adult life. The spectrum of cancers affecting this age group reflects a similar transition. The common malignant diseases of childhood - leukemias, lymphomas, tumors of the central nervous system and embryonal solid tumors (such as nephroblastoma and neuroblastoma) - are replaced in relative frequency by sarcomas of bone and soft tissue, and tumors of the male and female genital tracts. Moreover, the epithelial tumors (carcinomas), so prevalent in adults, occur (albeit at much lower frequencies) in adolescents. Within individual tumor types, biological features may be distinctive in this age group. Examples are the high prevalence of poor prognostic determinants in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and histologically higher grade forms of astrocytic/glial tumors. Particular challenges in addressing the common tumors of adolescence include the development of better categorization, especially of soft tissue sarcomas, and exploring these diseases in this age group within the developing world where most adolescents reside.

publication date

  • November 2007