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More youth cancer, but survival up

Next month will bring a triumphant milestone for Sommer Ellis. On May 5, it will be five years since the 24-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Next month will bring a triumphant milestone for Sommer Ellis. On May 5, it will be five years since the 24-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It’s been a long battle and it’s so reassuring I’ve almost reached that mark,” she said.

The Toronto woman is among an increasing number of young Canadians coping successfully with cancer.
The Canadian Cancer Society released statistics Thursday showing a five per cent increase in the five-year survival rate of patients between 15 and 29 years of age.

Among those in this age range diagnosed with cancer between 2001 and 2004, 85 per cent are still alive today. That’s up from 80 per cent in that time frame for those diagnosed between 1992 to 1995.

“It’s definitely great news,” said Ellis, who works in public relations at the University Health Network. “It gives a lot of us young adults hope. We hope the rate continues to rise.”

On average, there were 2,075 new cancer cases a year for her 15 to 29 age group between 1992 and 2005 in Canada. Lymphomas are one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers for both sexes, along with thyroid cancer in females and testicular cancer in males.

But death rates declined by a greater number, for males by 2.9 per cent a year and for females by 1.4 per cent, between 1995 and 2004. And while that’s good news, it presents different challenges.

“Cancer has a disproportionate impact (for those) in this age group because (they) may just be starting their careers or finishing their education or thinking about marriage and starting a family,” epidemiologist Loraine Marrett, with Cancer Care Ontario, told a news conference Thursday at the University of Toronto.

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