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Colorectal Cancer Rates Spiking in Younger Individuals

By May 13, 2016 No Comments

Physicians have been noting an alarming trend.  Statistics show that the appearance of colorectal cancer in people age 20 to 34 years has been rising.  Even more problematic is that fact that since screenings for colorectal cancer are traditionally not recommended until someone is in their 40’s, many of these younger patients are diagnosed only when the cancer has advanced. Currently more than 200,000 people per year are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

In a recent article which appeared in Healthline News, Dr. Allen Kamrava, a private practice colorectal surgeon based in California stated that “the worst thing to do in a young patient is to diagnose their cancer late.”

According to a study published in the JAMA Surgery, “if current trends continue, by the year 2030 the colon cancer rate will increase 90% and rectal cancer will increase 124% in people 20 to 34 years of age”

How do you know if you should get an early screening?

Lifestyle can be a contributing factor to an increased likelihood of colorectal cancer.  The following are lifestyle indicators which could increase your risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Diet high in the consumption of red meat and fried foods, and low in the consumption of vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Physical inactivity/sedentary lifestyle
  • Individuals with diabetes have in increased risk for colorectal cancers, and may not respond as well to treatment
  • African Americans have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy suggests that screening for should begin at the age of 45, not 50 for African Americans
  • Genetics can also play a part. Those which a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease are also at an increased risk

Early Warning Signs and Symptoms

Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why it is critical that those over 50 get annual screenings, and those who are high risk begin incorporating a screening during routine physicals.

For those cases where symptoms are present, individuals may experience changes in bowel habits, changes in stool consistency, abdominal discomfort, and/or blood in the stool, constipation, or passing excessive amounts of gas.

Other symptoms may include weight loss, fatigue or anemia.

Treatment for Colorectal Cancer

Treatment for colorectal cancer is dependent upon a number of variables.   Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon (or rectum) which is typically located at the lower end of the digestive tract.  Colorectal cancer may begin as benign polyps, or growths, which progress.   Treatments include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

What You Can Do To Take Charge of Your Health

So what can you do to decrease your risk of colorectal cancer? A healthy lifestyle may put you at a lower risk for colorectal cancer.  This includes proper diet, exercise, and maintenance of weight as well as abstaining from certain behaviors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

If you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, be sure to discuss with your physician whether a colonoscopy or other colorectal screening should be incorporated as part of your annual exams. If you have any symptoms (such as rectal bleeding) notify your physician immediately.

Generating awareness about colorectal cancer is an important step toward early detection and prevention.  For additional information on colorectal cancer and treatment please visit The American Cancer Society here, or to find out what preventive health screenings you should receive click to access the DocResponse preventive tool here.

Do you have any additional colorectal cancer resources you would like to share? If so please share them with us in the comments below or on social.