WARNING! Colon Cancer Deaths Rise Among Younger Adults
Death of persons about age 50 and below linked to colon cancer is increasing.
This is according to a new study by the American Cancer Society.
The cause of the increase has not been identified.
The study showed that adults in the United States are dying from colon and rectal cancers at an increasing rate about age 50, when they are supposed to begin screening for such concerns.
Since routine screening is generally not recommended for most adults under 50, the cancers found in younger adults are often in advanced stages and more deadly, said Dr. James Church, a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
The study published on Tuesday in the JAMA Network, a medical journal, showed Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence has been increasing in the United States among adults younger than 55 years since at least the mid-1990s.
A CNN report on the findings, said Church, who was not involved in the new study, said he has seen this trend in death rates up close.
Last year, on separate occasions, Church saw two 36-year-olds with stage IV colon cancer, he said.
In both of those patients, who had no relation to each other, the cancer spread to their livers, making it so he couldn't operate. Both died, he said.
"They both had young families, both little girls, and they lost their father in one case and their mother in the other, forever, because of this nasty disease when it's advanced," Church said.
"It makes a big impact on me, and it makes me keenly interested in trying to solve this issue," he said. "Everybody in colorectal surgical circles is seeing increased incidence of colon cancer in the young, defined as younger than 50."
The new study is a follow-up to one that found that incidence rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising in American adults under 50, the recommended screening age.
There is, however, racial divide indicated in the study, but the reason is still unknown.
“The increase is confined to white men and women and most rapid for metastatic disease.
“Although CRC mortality is declining overall, trends for all ages combined mask patterns in young adults, which have not been comprehensively examined.
“We analysed CRC mortality among persons aged 20 to 54 years by race from 1970 through 2014.
To reduce risk of colon cancer, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the new study, Rebecca Siegel, recommends maintaining a healthy body weight, staying physically active, avoiding drinking alcohol excessively and avoiding smoking.
Meanwhile, regular screening tests may find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is likely to be more effective.
All in all, the study "tells us that we need to get messages out for people when they turn 50, they need to call and schedule their colorectal cancer screening, because increasing death rates for people who should be screened is very concerning," Siegel added.