Colorectal Cancer in Younger Populations

Image Courtesy American Cancer Society

A new study conducted by the American Cancer Society reports increasing levels of colorectal cancer in younger populations. The study determined that from the mid-1980s through 2013, rates of colorectal cancer decreased in adults age 55 years and older, while increasing by 2.4% per year in adults age 20–29 years and by 1.0% per year in adults age 30– 39 years. In the mid-1990s, rates also began increasing in adults age 40 to 49 years (1.3% per year) and 50 to 54 years (0.5% per year).[1] These increased rates of colon cancer in younger adults are worrisome since it affects adults during their most fruitful and energetic years. Additionally, increased rates of cancer in younger populations can be indicative of the burden of disease for the future[2].

Researchers have yet to determine exactly why the rise in colorectal cancer in younger adults is happening. However, potential factors that may increase one’s risk include:

  • Diet
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Ulcerative Colitis

In response to this rise in colorectal cancer occurrences, the American Cancer Society has issued new recommendations regarding screenings. The ACS now recommends that individuals with an average risk of colorectal cancer begin screenings at age 45.  However, people who have a higher risk of colorectal cancer may need to pursue screenings before age 45. [3]

The ACS recommends accelerating screenings for individuals with:

  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

At Oncology Specialist of Charlotte, we create specific, personalized treatments plans for patients with colon and rectal cancer. We partner with you to determine an action plan to help you recover. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call our office.