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Early Detection

Colon cancer rates rise among Americans under 50


The number of young people diagnosed with colon cancer is growing, but doctors say there are effective ways to reverse this trend. While colon cancer rates have fallen 30 percent since the 1980s, incidences among people under 50 have risen 1.8 percent.

In a study published in JAMA Survey, Doctors advise screening before age 50 for men and women with certain risk factors for colon cancer researchers analyzed a national database of 400,000 U.S. patients with colon or rectal cancer. Incidences increased about 2 percent annually among people aged 20 to 34 and by close to half a percent each year among those aged 35 to 49.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. An estimated 143,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year, and nearly 51,000 people will die from the disease. Screening tests can reduce mortality by allowing doctors to find tumors early before they’ve had a chance to grow and spread.

Doctors recommend regular screening beginning at age 50, but advise people to start earlier if they have one of the following risk factors:

  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer polyps or colorectal cancer.
  • Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes.
  • Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • A genetic syndrome such as Lynch syndrome, Turcot syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).

If you feel you may be at increased risk for colon cancer, your physician can offer advice and determine the right screening schedule based on your personal history. Speak with your physician if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Significant weight loss

These symptoms may indicate cancer, or other issues. The only way to know is with a doctor’s exam. Please contact our facility to learn more about scheduling a colonoscopy with one of our board-certified specialists.