The number of young patients diagnosed with colon cancer has been growing gradually in the last years, even though the disease is thought to affect more likely at an older age. Doctors usually recommend screening for colon cancer to people older than 50 years old.
Young patients between 20- and 30- somethings are even getting misdiagnosed and by the time the colonoscopy shows real results, cancer may have spread to essential organs. According to a study published in the journal Cancer, adults under 50 with colorectal cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage and more likely to receive surgery and radiation therapy than older patients.
“It tends to be a more aggressive behavior in the younger patient,” said Dr. John Marshall, chief of hematology and oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
General rates of colon cancer have declined in the last decades, but a review from the National Cancer Institute last year revealed that the disease still continues to rise among the younger-than-50 set, as reported by Washington’s Top News.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, 11 percent of colon cancer diagnoses and 18 percent of rectal cancer diagnoses occur in patients younger than 50. But Dr. Marshal believes that amount may be higher.
At a normal day in his clinic, said Dr. Marshal, maybe half of it is full of patients who are younger than the expected and still diagnosed with colon cancer. Many without any family history of the disease, he added.
The increased amount of younger patients have raised some question and theories but there is not a clear answer yet as why the peak is happening. Patients and medical workers wonder whether is something in the environment or something they are ingesting.
Time to rethink current recommendations?
The increased amount of diagnoses in younger people could be a good reason to rethink the current recommendation to begin colonoscopies at the age of 50. A young colon cancer survivor wondered if the reason for the increase is because people are just not screening.
Dr. Marshall believes that it would be tough to get 20-and-30-somethings to line up for routine colonoscopies, which are tough to sell even for older people. Part of the solution is the development of alternative kinds of screening, he said. But increase awareness in the medical community of the demographic trend would be a great help, Dr. Marshall added.
Source: Washington’s Top News