Colon, rectal cancers on the rise for millennials

Tabitha Dunn
March 3, 2017

Her gastroenterologist dismissed her symptoms as hemorrhoids or an intestinal disorder; a year later, after her symptoms worsened, she had a colonoscopy and was diagnosed with rectal cancer that already had spread to her lungs and liver.

That picture emerged from the records of nearly 500,000 people age 20 and older who were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer between 1974 and 2013.

Even before Tuesday's study, the cancer society had been set to review its screening guidelines this year.

There's some good news for older Americans when it comes to cancer.

But, the recent study showcased by the American Cancer Society follows a trail of data that indicates that these types of cancers have been on the uptake for every generation that was born after 1950.

The 35-year-old husband and father is hoping to convince other people in his age group to get screened for a disease that is becoming more common in his generation. But, colon cancer incidence has risen for people younger than 50! Despite these statistics, it is one of the most preventable and, if found early, most treatable forms of cancer.

Colorectal cancer rates are declining the fastest in those ages 65 years old and up, including tumors found in the distal colon, HealthDay News reports.

The study looked at 490,000 people and compared incidences of cancer in five-year periods by looking at years of birth and focusing on five-year age groups to determine cancer rates and risks.

In fact, the research showed that when looking at rectal cancer specifically, cases in the 20-29 age group increased by 3.2 percent every year, an even higher rate than the increase in colon cancer.

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The decline in colorectal cancer rates is reported in the Americans aged 50 years or older, the average decrease per year noticed as 5 percent from the year 2009 to the year 2013.

In addition, scientists are not sure what is driving the rising numbers.

"Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden", the American Cancer Society's Rebecca Siegel said in a statement from that organization. "Inherited genetic diseases play a factor, and other diseases, like Crohn's disease".

"Western countries have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world, and the thinking is it's related to obesity and diet", says Jenkins.

His doctor told him he had colorectal cancer.

However, a new study finds risks are increasing steadily for younger adults. By 2013, that rate had doubled, a change of more than 2% per year over that time.

The standard recommendation for colon cancer screenings now starts at age 50.

"That's one thing that makes cancer worse in young people", he said. As a result, the study found, their cancers are 58% more likely to be diagnosed after spreading beyond the rectum or colon compared with patients over 50.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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