PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Young people are being diagnosed with cancer at an alarming pace, according to a sweeping new study that also says many cases are preventable.
It's a global trend -- a growing number of young people are being diagnosed with cancer according to the largest study of its kind.
The study says early onset cancer increased 79% from 1.8 million cases in 1990 to just over 3 million in 2019
"It is a significant rise," Dr. Michael Dabrow said.
Dabrow is the medical director of the Paoli Cancer Center
"I think its important to recognize even though you're young and healthy one can still have a risk for developing these cancers," he said.
The new researchers says worldwide that more than a million people under 50 are now dying of cancer every year.
"Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer," said Leah Phillips, who has lung cancer.
Phillips, the mom of three, is a runner who never smoked. She was just 43 years old when she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
"When they came back after the bone biopsy and said you have lung cancer, you could have knocked us over with a feather," Phillips said.
Her cancer was linked to radon exposure, but most lung cancer is usually caused by smoking.
"Something very controllable we've known for a long time that it causes a litany of cancers," Dabrow said.
Dabrow says in addition to smoking, cancer is also linked to eating high-fat processed food and heavy drinking. He says alcohol can increase the risk for cancer because it can impair liver function.
Doctors say eliminating unhealthy activities and becoming more active can help prevent cancer.
"Making these changes -- while difficult to do -- really would be a major improvement. I mean probably a 40% to 50% reduction. I think that would be a massive reduction in cancer risk really across the board," Dr. Suneel Kamath, who specializes in oncology said.
The best way to prevent cancer is with screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies.
They're not recommended for young people. This is why doctors say it's important to pay attention to your body and if something doesn't look or feel right to follow up with a doctor.
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