Increased Risk of Colon Cancer Among Young Adults in U.S.


Although the prevalence of colon cancer is dwindling among older people, the young adults are encountering a greater incidence. Revealed in a recent study, the finding might be quite alarming for the young adults

JAMA Surgery published the study on Nov. 5, in which the data of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been analyzed, encompassing the years 1975 to 2010 by the team of Christina Bailey from the department of surgical oncology of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The analysis showed a reduction in the rate of colorectal cancer by one percent per year during this phase, for men as well as women.

However in case of analysis based on age, disparities have been observed. As per the researchers, the incidence of colon cancer has declined by one percent per year among people above 50 years of age, but the rate of the disease diagnosed in individuals between 20 to 34 years old has increased by two percent. The prevalence has also augmented by half percent per year in people between 35 to 49 years old. Researchers added “there has been a steady decline in the incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) in patients aged 50 years or older, but the opposite trend has been observed for young adults.”
Bailey and colleagues remarked that if this trend goes on, there would be a substantial rise in the incidence of colon and rectal cancer among young adults. In the individuals between 20 to 34 years of age, there would be a 90 percent increase in the prevalence of colon cancer by 2030. People belonging to this age group would also encounter a 124.2 percent increase for rectal cancer. The increase, in case of individuals between 35 to 49 years old, would be 46 percent for rectal cancer and 27.7 percent for colon cancer.

The cause behind this trend still remains undetermined, however, oncologists consider diet and lifestyle of young adults as underlying factors. David Bernstein, gastroenterologist from North Shore University Hospital, stated “it’s impossible at this juncture to determine why colorectal cancer incidence is rising among young adults, especially those ages 20 to 34.” He also added “my guess is the increase is somehow related to dietary or environmental factors, but extensive scientific research is needed to uncover the true causes.”
Colorectal cancer is one of the most fatal cancers in the U.S. and it is recommended by the American Cancer Society that screening of colon cancer should be done in every five years for individuals above 50 years of age. However, with the new information that has surfaced, there might be changes in this recommendation for the inclusion of young adults as well
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