A report published in the Journal of American Medical Association (Nov.5) has both good and bad news regarding the incidence of colorectal cancers in America. The good news is that cancer rates, in adults over 50, have been steadily declining over the last 30 years. This decline is being credited to the increase awareness of the disease and the corresponding increase in screening colonoscopies.

 The bad news is that during the same time period there has been an increase in colorectal cancers in younger people. The study was an analysis of data of annual cancer incidence rates and the annual percentage change that number represented. 

The results showed that for patients age 20-34 years of age there was an increasing incidence rate. A smaller, but still significant, increasing rate was also seen in patients age 35-49 years of age. The authors, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,  used the trends to show that, if the increase continues on the same curve, by the year 2030 the colorectal cancer incidence rates will almost double for this younger group.

Researchers also added that more studies need to be done to find the cause for the increase in these cancers in younger people. Known risk factors for colorectal cancers include: family history, obesity, inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and high fat/low fiber diets.

 What can we take away from this study? 

  •  Over 50? Have a screening colonoscopy at the recommended intervals.
  • Under 50? Speak to your doctor about your personal risk factors