An American Cancer Society study has found that there is a sharp increase in cases of colon and rectal cancers in Americans below the age of 55. According to the study, people born in 1990 are two times more likely to get one in your colon and four times more likely to get rectal cancer than those born in 1950. The risk was lowest in the 1950s.
The worrisome part is the upward trend. The findings of this study offer an insight into the magnitude of a problem that continues to increase. Doctors have typically been reluctant to consider colorectal diagnoses in very young people. This has increased the risk of young people being diagnosed later when the problem is more advanced and harder to treat.
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More and more people increasingly understand the importance of screening tests. Their widespread use has led to a decline in colorectal cases in recent years. However, these tests have not always been considered to be practical for younger people. Screening increases the chances of finding polyps (growths) along the bowel wall early before they develop into cancer. An improvement is definitely needed in order to develop methods that will be much easier to administer.
Most colorectal problems have always been associated with aging. The increase in younger adults has left experts baffled and worried. In fact, cases of the disease are on the decrease in older people. Experts have attributed the decrease to lifestyle changes such as healthier diets and smoking cessation.
In recent cases, there is a high number of young patients. Some of them are so young that they have never been screened through colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is recommended to for people who are 50 or older. Some quarters have recommended that the screening should start at 45.
Colon and rectal cancers have been mainly blamed on sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Other factors include heavy alcohol consumption and conditions like Type 2 diabetes and inflammatory disease, both of which are rising. But experts have their own reservations about blaming the recent rise in colorectal cancer cases on these risk factors.
The risk can be reduced by:
People with colon and rectal cancer experience several warning signs. However, the symptoms are generally vague. They include digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. In one case, a woman who was complaining of constipation was found to have a tumor almost as big as a tennis ball. Her doctor had advised her to take more dietary fiber. Fortunately, the disease had not spread.
Although colon and rectal cancers have been increasing in young adults, it has not led to a notable increase in the number of deaths resulting from the cancers. The real concern is the speed at which cases are increasing.
A 2014 study at the University of California Irvine found an increase in colorectal cancer cases among adults aged between 20 and 39. Associate professor Dr. Jason A. Zell said shaping health policy was the biggest challenge. This sentiment is bound to gain more traction following the recent findings.