View Full Version : Cancer in young people

2007-Aug-10, 01:31 AM
I know this is kind of a specialized question, but there are lots of smart people here so I thought somebody might have an answer.

People around me often say that "when young people get cancer, it progresses rapidly." The implication I think is that young people are more energetic, and thus the cancers they get are also energetic. I'm sort of wondering if it's true, and if so, why. I have a couple of thoughts about it, and wonder if anybody knows enough to make any comments.

One is that young people do tend to get aggressive types of cancer. I'm thinking of sarcomas and acute leukemias, for example. Whereas older people tend to get carcinomas and chronic leukemias that do not progress as rapidly. But I'm not sure why this would be.

Two hypotheses come to mind.

The first is that the young people who get those aggressive cancers have some genetic susceptibility or something, and would get them anyway, just they happen to get them young.

The second is that somehow young people's immune systems are strong enough to overcome the cancers that older people get, and so only succumb to fairly aggressive cancers in the first place.

2007-Aug-10, 05:00 PM
That is not what the doctors told my sister when my nephew got cancer at age 19. In a nutshell, they said that his cancer (testicular) was a fast-mover, but also that the young have cellular growth that is faster than an older person. (I am 47 and I heal slower now than when I was, say, 16.)

So, some of what I got out of all of it is that the young's cancers grow faster because the young are adding/replacing cells faster than the old.

Made sense to me.

2007-Aug-11, 02:15 AM
People around me often say that "when young people get cancer, it progresses rapidly."

Bad/faulty logic.

There are kids with slow cancers, benign cancers, and there are kids with swift cancers.

People used to insist the Earth was flat, too....