The number of cancer patients in their 20s and 30s is on the rise. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday, 18,050 people in that age group were diagnosed with cancer in 2010, marking a 1.8-fold increase compared to a decade ago.
Among celebrities, Ooh La La Session leader Lim Yoon-taek died from stomach cancer at the age of 33 on Monday, and actress Jan Jin-young succumbed to the same illness at the age of 37. Lim and Jang were diagnosed in the terminal stages of the disease, and the cancer progressed rapidly in both cases.
Physicians say that many younger patients are likely to receive late diagnoses.
"At present, cancer screening is often recommended for people in their 40s or older," said Lee Chang-hwa at the National Cancer Center. "Younger people tend to be reluctant to see a doctor when they feel unwell or unless they feel severe pain, often hampering early diagnosis and treatment."
He stressed the importance of regular medical check-ups. "It is recommended that those with a family history of disease see a doctor regularly," Lee added.