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(NaturalNews) Lung cancer is one of the world's top killers among men and women. Each year, more people die from lung cancer than from breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. As reported by the American Cancer Society, about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer.
Lung cancer mainly occurs in the later stages of life. About 66 percent of all people diagnosed with lung cancer are 65 years or older, while less than 2 percent are younger than 45.
While the average age at the time of diagnosis is 70, a new study has found that the disease seems to be more advanced in people who get the diagnosis of lung cancer before the age of 65.
Middle-aged people are at higher risk of advanced lung cancer
According to new data presented at the Cancer Outcomes and Data Conference 2016 in Manchester, UK, earlier this month, British adults – aged 50 to 64 – are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer than those who are slightly older.
To evaluate the association between early- and late-stage lung cancer and age, researchers reviewed information from about 34,000 lung cancer patients in England in 2013.
The data has shown that a higher proportion of middle-aged patients with lung cancer were diagnosed at a late stage compared to patients aged between 65 and 69. Furthermore, the researchers noted that patients who have reached the age of 70 or beyond are more likely to be diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer.
David Kennedy, Cancer Research UK's data and research analyst, said: "Through harnessing the power of patient data we were able to detect this difference in the stage at which younger and older people are diagnosed with this disease. Our results show that younger patients in their 50s and early 60s are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced lung cancer compared to patients in older age groups. Further analysis will focus on understanding this relationship to see if a similar pattern is present for other types of cancer."
Early detection saves lives
Dr. Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health and patient information, noted that it is not clear why younger patients are more often diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer, but that the data opens doors to finding better detection strategies and improving the survival rate of lung cancer patients.
"This research is a great example of the importance of good quality data. It can lead to a better understanding of who is at an increased risk of different cancers. It can help target resources to the right groups in helping to improve cancer survival," Dr. Sharp said.
"It's not clear exactly why younger patients are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, but what's important is that the disease is caught early. Signs of lung cancer can include a cough that won't go away or being short of breath. It's vital that when people spot something unusual for them, they go to their doctor as soon as possible. Detecting cancer early is crucial as it offers the best chance of successfully treating the disease," she added.