“Fresh research shows that individuals under the age of 50 are experiencing a surge in colorectal cancer diagnoses, with a higher number of cases being detected in advanced stages.”
Younger patients are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer more frequently, and the majority of these instances are reported to be in advanced stages. The incidence of colorectal cancer in people under the age of 55 grew from 11% to 20% between 1995 and 2019, according to the most recent data from the American Cancer Society.
As a result, of the 1.3 million Americans under 55 who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2019, approximately 273,800 were citizens of the nation. According to a 2017 study, Gen Z and millennials are four times more likely than persons born in the 1950s to be diagnosed with rectal cancer. Gen Z and millennials are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer.
Advanced Stage Diagnoses of Colorectal Cancer Are Increasing:
“A 2021 study that was published in JAMA anticipated that within seven years colorectal cancer would overtake lung cancer as the top cause of cancer death among persons 20 to 49.”
Diagnoses if colorectal cancer in the US has risen consistently, from about 52% in the middle of the 2000s to 60% in 2019. This is in contrast to persons over 50 who are eligible for screening, whose rates and deaths from colorectal cancer are dropping. Most cases identified in younger patients are more advanced and frequently harder to treat or entirely cure.
Since colorectal cancer’s early signs are typically asymptomatic, they may go missing, which could lead to a misdiagnosis, which is prevalent in young people with colon cancer. Although colorectal cancer is no longer viewed as an “old man’s disease,” many younger folks are nevertheless ignorant that it might still harm them.
Factors Contributing to the Rise of Colorectal Cancer Cases in Younger People
The rise in young people’s colon and rectal cancer cases in recent years has been a significant health concern. Experts speculate that additional factors may be at work in addition to the well-known lifestyle risk factors. Like a sedentary way of life and a diet heavy in processed foods and sugars.
Hence increasing the likelihood that additional variables are behind the surge. According to Dr. Andrea Ng, (a gastroenterologist and oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston)
“We see so many young patients with colorectal cancer who follow very healthy lifestyles and diets.”
Racial and Cultural Groups With High Incidence Rates:
Additionally, according to new research, colorectal cancer diagnoses are more common in several racial and cultural groups. Native Alaskans had the highest incidence rate, with 88.5 instances per 100,000 people. The following groups are Black Americans and Native Americans (46.0 cases per 100,000 people). (41.7 cases per 100,000 people).
However, a rise in colon cancer incidence across all racial and ethnic groups in the US from 2010 to 2019 suggests that the increase is a widespread problem.
Environmental Factors as Major Contributors:
According to Phillip Daschner, program director of the oncology immunology, hematology, and etiology branch of the Division of Cancer Biology, National Cancer Institute, while genetics do play a role in colorectal cancer risk, only about 25% of cases in young people are related to a family history of Lynch syndrome or polyps.
This demonstrates that the growth in colorectal cancer cases in younger people may be more related to environmental factors like nutrition and lifestyle. The risk factors should be understood by younger people, who should also seek medical help if they exhibit any symptoms.
Increased chances of survival can be achieved with early detection and treatment.
Importance of Early Detection and Treatment:
Because only 25% of colorectal cancers in adults under 40 have a genetic component, the causes of the rise in colon cancer among younger people are still unknown. In the remaining 75% of these cases, “the bottom line is we don’t know why this is happening,” according to Phillip Daschner.
Although established lifestyle risk factors including obesity, sedentary activity, and poor diet may potentially contribute to the rise, environmental variables are thought to play a significant role in this trend.
At What Age Should You Begin Screening for Colon Cancer?
People with similar birth years have greater incidence rates, which is a phenomenon known as the birth cohort effect and may have an environmental origin. Researchers are looking into potential environmental elements such as stress, plastics, and antibiotics. The exact cause of the surge is still unknown.
Although it has historically been uncommon to screen for colon cancer in those under 50, that recommendation has been dropped to 45 as of 2021. Despite this, more screening cannot be the cause of the rise in incidence among those under 55. Increased screening cannot be the only explanation for the increase, as evidenced by the rise in the number of cases discovered at advanced stages.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer:
Blood in the stool, stomach pain, abrupt weight loss, changes in bowel habits, anemia, shortness of breath, and exhaustion are a few signs and symptoms of colon and rectal cancer. It is crucial to get medical assistance if any symptoms do not go away because they can match those of other ailments. Early detection can raise colon cancer’s five-year survival rate, which is now 90%.
It is crucial to identify high-risk youth and conduct earlier tests as a result.
Remember to stay informed and talk to your doctor about your risk factors for colon cancer. If you notice any symptoms, don’t wait to get medical attention.