You may be thinking that colorectal cancer is something that you don’t need to be concerned with until you are 50 years or older. A recent study by the American Cancer Society indicates that colorectal cancer is on the rise among younger people. The study finds that there has been a significant increase in the number of colorectal cancer deaths in people under the age of 50. Compounding the problem is that when colorectal cancer is diagnosed in younger adults, it is generally a more advanced and aggressive form of the disease.
Rates on the Rise
While the recent study has not attributed the rising rates of colorectal cancer among younger adults to a specific cause, the measurable increase is causing physicians to consider screening patients at a younger age. Historically the US Preventive Service has recommended that people age 50 and older be screened. Despite the rise in rates, there has not been an increase in the rate of younger adults beings screened. This alarming fact has many worried that colorectal cancer deaths will continue to rise until we see an increase in the rate of younger adults being screened.
Colorectal cancer is the second most lethal cancer in the world and the National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2017, 135,140 new cases will be diagnosed and 50,260 deaths will be caused by colorectal cancer. Additionally, people born in the 1990s have twice the risk of having colorectal cancer than someone born in the 1950s. With this rise, who should be screened?
When Should I Be Screened?
Due to the growing evidence that colorectal cancer is increasing in people younger than age 50, the study’s author suggested getting screened earlier. While the official guidelines have not yet changed, the American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at age 50 for most people, with screening starting at a younger age for those with a family history of colon or rectal cancer. Common symptoms of colorectal cancer include nausea, unexplained extreme weight loss, blood in your stool, and diarrhea. While these symptoms could be caused by a variety of factors, individuals experiencing these symptoms should consider a visit to your physician.
My Risk Factors
There are several reasons why your risk of colorectal disease may be higher. Whether or not you fall under these risk factors, it is important to be educated in what could increase your risk.
- Genetic History: If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, your chances of getting colorectal cancer are significantly higher. It is important to know your family’s health history, as it may affect your health sooner or later.
- Age: Your age has an important influence on your chances of getting colorectal cancer. While the number of people under 50 getting colorectal cancer is higher, the chances are that if you get colorectal cancer, it is after the age of 50. If you are around the age of 50, it is highly recommended to visit your local gastroenterologist about getting a screening for colorectal cancer.
- Diet/Lifestyle: New studies have shown that your lifestyle and diet have an impact on your chances of having colorectal cancer. If your diet consists of more processed and red meats more than it contains fruits and veggies, you are at increased risk of colorectal cancer. The amount of exercise is also key to your chances of developing colorectal cancer. If your life is sedentary, your risk of colorectal cancer is much higher than someone who exercises regularly.
The best way to be sure if you are at increased risk of colorectal cancer is to set up an appointment with us at Associates in Digestive Health. Our expert team of physicians can help you evaluate if you need an early screening and provide you with the information you need to stay ahead of colorectal cancer.
Call today to book your appointment.