A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that the number of young adults with colorectal cancer is increasing in the United States.

According to the study, since 1980 to 2013, the number of colon cancer patients between 20 and 30 years old increased about 1 to 2 percent per year in the United States. Rebecca Siegel, a researcher at the American Cancer Society said that the main reasons for this result could be the changes in diet, a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight and low fiber consumption. However, the research didn’t study the reasons.

Doctor with male young patient
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third cancer type most diagnosed in the United States. Image credit: CHOP Research Institute Blog.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S.

In 2017, the ACS is expecting 95,250 colon cancer new cases, and 39,910 rectal cancer new cases. Also, during 2017, 50,260 people could die of colorectal cancer in the United States.

The study involved around 490,000 people between 20 and 30 years old who received diagnoses of invasive colorectal cancer between 1974 and 2013. They found that people born around 1990 have double the risk of colorectal cancer when compared to people born around 1950.

Female Patient
A young female patient. Image credit: Penn State News.

“We don’t want to create a panic, and the frequency in younger adults is still relatively low, but we are seeing an increase,” said Dr. Mark Pochapin, director of gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center, and treasurer of the American College of Gastroenterology, according to The New York Times.

Pochapin also said that doctors need to be aware of the possibilities of colorectal cancer in younger adults. He added that it is important to conduct a deeper study when patients have symptoms like rectal bleeding and this should not be ignored even if the patient is in his 20s or 30s.

Dr. Nilofer Azad, an oncologist at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, said that she has patients in their 30s and 40s, and even in their 20s. She also said, according to The Daily Herald, that the disease is diagnosed in one out of 100,000 patients in their 20s compared with near 50 out of 100,000 people in their early 60s. So, the rate is still relatively low, but experts say that doctors need to pay attention to all the symptoms.

She also considers that young people could be diagnosed at a later stage because they are not getting screened as older people.

According to the ACS, the survival rate in stage I is 92 percent. On the other hand, they say that when colon cancer goes to other body parts, the treatment is more difficult and the survival rate is 11 percent, but there are a lot of treatment options to people in this cancer stage.

“This is definitely something that has gotten all of our attention. What we want to tell patients is that if they see any bleeding or abdominal pain they should have that investigated and not ignore it,” said Dr. Kevin E. Woods of the Cancer Center Treatment Centers of America, according to Northern California News.

Source: The Daily Herald