Gen X may have higher cancer incidences than previous generations

A National Cancer Institute study found that members of Generation X may be experiencing larger per-capita increases in the incidence of cancer compared to any prior generation.

The study, published June 10 in JAMA Network Open, used Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program data for 3.8 million patients with invasive cancer. It compared members of Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980, and compared it with cancer incidence from prior generations born between 1908 and 1964.

Here are four findings:

  • In Generation X vs. baby boomers, incidence rate ratios among women increased for thyroid (2.76 per capita), kidney (1.99), rectal (1.84), corpus uterine (1.75), colon (1.56), pancreatic (1.39), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (1.4) and leukemia (1.27).

  • Among men in Generation X vs. baby boomers, incidence rate ratios increase for thyroid (2.16), kidney (2.14), rectal (1.8), colon (1.6), prostate (1.25) and leukemia (1.34).

  • Among women, lung and cervical cancers decreased, and among men, lung, liver and gallbladder cancers, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma incidence decreased.

  • For all cancers combined, rates were higher in Generation X than for baby boomers.

"On current trajectories, cancer incidence could remain high for decades," the study authors wrote.

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