Puzzled Doctors Are Trying to Diagnose the Rise In Cancer Rates Among Young Americans – The Average Joe


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    Puzzled Doctors Are Trying to Diagnose the Rise In Cancer Rates Among Young Americans

    Noah Weidner

    January 13, 2024

    Every year, close to 2M Americans receive a cancer diagnosis, resulting in over 600K deaths, making it the second-leading cause of death according to the CDC. But science has been kicking cancer’s ass since the 1990s — decreasing the rate of new cancer cases and cancer-related deaths by 14% and 32%, respectively, from 1992 to 2019.

    However, doctors have been puzzled by an increase in early-onset cancers affecting young people — and nobody knows why. American Cancer Society’s Ahmedin Jemel says that “50 years” of cancer progress could be undone if we don’t diagnose the rise in new cases.

    Nobody’s safe: Despite the overall decline in cancer rates, diagnoses in people under 50 have increased 12.8% from 2000 to 2019 — bucking the “classic teaching that cancer is a disease of aging,” according to Dr. Monique Gary of Grand View Health (WSJ).

    • Gastrointestinal cancer diagnoses have risen the most among young people since 2000, according to the National Cancer Institute — while those over 50 have seen declines (WSJ).
    • Among 15 to 39-year-olds, diagnoses have risen faster than any other age group, leading scientists to believe that the acceleration is due to obesity, environmental factors, and ultra-processed foods.

    Taking on cancer (for profit)

    Life-saving therapies have made treating cancer more successful (and lucrative) than ever — and they couldn’t have come at a better time. By 2030, nearly 200 drugs worth $200B in annual revenue will lose their exclusive patent, opening up the market to generics. Pharmaceutical giants are spending billions to acquire companies making targeted oncology treatments, demonstrating unprecedented promise and profitability.

    • Last March, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) paid over $43B to acquire biotech giant Seagen, vowing to deploy “its financial resources to advance the battle against cancer” in a major bet that oncology would be its next big franchise.
    • Since the start of 2023, 10 of the 42 major M&A deals were for cancer drugs, including Bristol Myers Squibb’s (NYSE:BMY) $4.8B deal for Mirati Therapeutics and J&J’s (NYSE:JNJ) $2B acquisition of Ambrx.

    Buy their way out of trouble: Oncology could remain front-and-center for drug companies worrying about losing patents on their old and profitable drugs. Analysts at Guggenheim Securities recently released their list of potential companies that could be ripe for acquisition — including Blueprint (NASDAQ:BPMC), Immunocore (NASDAQ:IMCR), and Syndax (NASDAQ:SNDX).

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