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Cancer cases among Gen Xers growing faster compared to previous generations

Gen X patients had decreases in lung and cervical cancer rates, but the rise in other cancers could erase those gains.
A woman laying inside an MRI machine
Posted at 8:11 PM, Jun 10, 2024

Researchers looked at public health records for 3.8 million patients with invasive cancer, or cancer that has spread.

"Generation X may be experiencing larger per-capita increases in the incidence of leading cancers than any prior generation born in 1908 through 1964. On current trajectories, cancer incidence could remain high for decades," the authors wrote.

They found Gen X patients — those born between 1965-1980 — had decreases in lung and cervical cancer rates, but that the rise in other cancers could erase those gains.

A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer

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Cancer death rates are dropping, but not for everyone

Lindsey Theis
7:22 PM, May 15, 2024

"There are some cancers that we see at higher rates now; these include colon cancer, esophageal cancer, even breast cancer, pancreatic cancer. We're seeing rates rise in younger populations than historically," said Dr. David Spigel, oncologist and chief scientific officer at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, part of HCA Healthcare.

Spigel spoke to Scripps News recently about the increase in colon cancer specifically in younger populations. He was not involved in the new study.

Colon cancers are rising in young people, according to the American Cancer Society. Colon cancer screenings are recommended starting at age 45.

The increases partially have to do with increased screenings and population increases compared to older generations. Obesity, alcohol, tobacco, family history are also known risk factors, the CDC says.