According to a recent study, the rates for colon and rectal cancer have risen sharply for Americans under 55.
Researchers at the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute have stated that somebody born in 1990 have four times the risk of rectal cancer and two times the risk of colon cancer at the same age as someone been born in 1950.
Due to routine screenings generally not being performed for people under 50, these cancers are usually found in advanced stages.
Although the overall trend of colorectal cancer has been dropping for several decades, the surge of younger diagnoses goes against this trend.
Doctors have studied nearly 500,000 colorectal cancer cases from 1974 to 2013 but have not been able to reveal the reason behind increase of young diagnoses. In older adults, regular screening picks up growths before they become cancerous, and reduce colorectal cancer.
Doctors have made a statistical prediction that by 2030, around 1 in 10 colon cancers and 1 in 4 rectal cancers will be diagnosed for people under 50, which is under the recommended screening age. Younger people need to be made aware of this issue, as younger people tend to ignore the symptoms.
Younger people tend to ignore the symptoms, sometimes literally for years. Symptoms include cramps, bloating, weight loss, constipation, and blood in stool which sometimes is mistaken for hemorrhoids.
Another issue is that younger people are more likely to be uninsured, causing them to put off their doctor visits until the symptoms can no longer be ignored.
Due to this, rather than reconsidering screening guidelines and lowering the screening age which might lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful biopsies and treatments, awareness should be raised. Awareness among patients to not ignore their symptoms and among doctors to consider cancer in younger patients should be raised so cancer can be detected and treated in its early stages.
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