Bimodal Age Distribution in Cancer Incidence

Shreya Desai, Achuta K. Guddati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer is caused by accumulation of genetic changes which include activation of protooncogenes and loss of tumor suppressor genes. The age-specific incidence of cancer in general increases with advancing age. However, some cancers exhibit a bimodal distribution. Commonly recognized cancers with bimodal age distribution include acute lymphoblastic leukemia, osteosarcoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, germ cell tumors and breast cancer. Delayed infection hypothesis has been used to provide explanation for the early childhood peak in leukemias and lymphomas, whereas the peak at an older age is associated with accumulation of protooncogenes and weakened immune system. Further genetic analysis and histopathological variations point to distinctly different cancers, varying genetically and histologically, which are often combined under a single category of cancers. Tumor characteristics and age distribution of these cancers varies also by population groups and has further implications on cancer screening methods. Although significant advances have been made to explain the bimodal nature of such cancers, the specific genetic mechanisms for each age distribution remain to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Bimodal
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Delayed infection
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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