Early-Onset Cancers in Adults: A Review of Epidemiology, Supportive Care Needs and Future Research Priorities

Ashleigh C. Hamilton*, David W. Donnelly, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Helen G. Coleman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
115 Downloads (Pure)


Rising incidence of specific types of early-age onset cancers in adults aged 18−49 years has been reported in high-income countries. In this review, we summarise the epidemiology of early-onset cancers using exemplar data from a high-income UK region, discuss supportive care needs for young patients and outline future research directions. The incidence rate of early-onset cancers increased by 20.5% from 1993 to 2019 in Northern Ireland. Differences in types of cancer were observed between sexes and across age groups of 18−29, 30−39 and 40−49 years. One and five-year net survival was mostly better in 18−29-year-olds for all cancers combined compared to older age groups for both sexes, but there were variations in specific cancer types. Poorer survival was observed for patients with brain/central nervous system, connective and soft tissue or lung cancers. Patients with early-onset cancers face unique supportive care needs and require holistic care. The impact of cancer treatment on fertility and fertility preservation treatments is an important consideration. Social media can be used for patient support, information, fundraising, advocacy work and recruitment to research studies. We also outline suggested future research priorities for early-onset cancers, spanning prevention, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4021
Issue number16
Early online date20 Aug 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 Aug 2022


  • early-onset cancer
  • young onset cancer
  • epidemiology
  • supportive care needs


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