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Doctor consults with cancer
patient and her father
Photo by Rhoda Baer

A new report has revealed differences in survival among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with hematologic malignancies.

The report includes information on AYAs—ages 15 to 39—living in Los Angeles County who were diagnosed with common cancers between 1988 and 2014.

The data showed differences in 5-year survival rates according to sex, race, age, and socioeconomic status (SES).

For example, lymphoma survival rates were lower for males, African Americans (AAs), older AYAs, and patients with low socioeconomic status (SES).

For AYAs with leukemias, there was no survival difference according to sex, but AAs had worse survival than patients of other races. And the impact of age and SES varied according to leukemia type.

“Cancer survival data are poorly understood for 15- to 39-year-olds,” noted Amie Hwang, PhD, of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

That is why she and her colleagues created the report, “Cancer in Los Angeles County: Survival Among Adolescents and Young Adults 1988-2014.”

According to the authors, this is the first report to break down cancer survival rates for AYAs into segments on race/ethnicity, sex, age group, SES, and cancer stage.

Survival data for patients with hematologic malignancies were as follows.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

There were 1137 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the AYA population in Los Angeles County during the period studied. This included 752 males and 385 females.

Five-year survival was similar between males (43%) and females (41%).

Younger AYAs had better survival than older AYAs (48% for ages 15-24, 35% for ages 25-34, and 32% for ages 35-39).

Survival was highest among non-Latino whites (NLWs, 56%), followed by Asian/Pacific Islanders (APIs, 52%), patients of other/unknown races (51%), Latino whites (LWs, 38%), and AAs (29%).

Survival declined with SES (55% for high, 42% for middle, and 36% for low SES).

Acute myeloid leukemia

There were 1195 cases of acute myeloid leukemia—641 males and 554 females.

Five-year survival was similar for males (40%) and females (43%) as well as for the different age groups (45% for ages 15-24 vs 40% for the older age groups).

Survival was highest among NLWs (44%), followed by LWs (43%), APIs (40%), other/unknown (33%), and AAs (25%).

Survival declined somewhat with SES (49% for high, 39% for middle, and 41% for low SES).

Chronic myeloid leukemia

There were 655 cases of chronic myeloid leukemia—408 males and 247 females.

Five-year survival was similar for males (70%) and females (71%), but it was slightly higher for older AYAs (69% for ages 15-24, 68% for ages 25-34, and 76% for ages 35-39).

Survival was highest among patients in the “other/unknown” race category (76%), followed by LWs (73%), NLWs/APIs (both 72%), and AAs (57%).

Survival declined somewhat with SES (76% for high, 67% for middle, and 68% for low SES).

Hodgkin lymphoma

There were 2993 AYAs diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma—1553 males and 1440 females.

The 5-year survival rate was higher in females (93%) than males (86%) and in younger AYAs (93% for ages 15-24, 89% for ages 25-34, and 85% for ages 35-39).

Survival was highest among patients in the “other/unknown” race category (96%), followed by APIs/NLWs (both 91%), LWs (88%), and AAs (83%).

Survival declined with SES (95% for high, 89% for middle, and 83% for low SES).

And survival was lower for patients with advanced-stage disease (93% localized, 94% regional, and 83% distant).

Non-Hodkgin lymphoma

There were 4485 AYAs diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma during the study period­—3064 males and 1421 females.

The 5-year survival rate was higher in females (75%) than males (46%) and in younger AYAs (69% for ages 15-24, 51% for ages 25-34, and 52% for ages 35-39).

Survival was highest among patients in the “other/unknown” race category (88%), followed by APIs (68%), LWs/NLWs (both 53%), and AAs (50%).

Survival declined with SES (68% for high, 54% for middle, and 45% for low SES).

And survival was lower for patients with advanced-stage disease (61% localized, 66% regional, and 46% distant).

“Adolescents and young adults go to the doctor less often because they have this superhero mentality, like they’re invincible,” said author Dennis Deapen, DrPH, of the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

“Once they do go to a health professional, their cancer diagnosis can be delayed because cancer isn’t the first concern doctors have for this age group. It comes as no surprise that patients diagnosed with late-stage cancer have reduced survival rates.”


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