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Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis Increasing In Millennials

March 10, 2017

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While colorectal cancer is predominantly found in people over age 50, a recent study released by the American Cancer Society has found that there has been a surprising increase of cases among people in their 20s and 30s. 

A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows there has also been an annual increase ranging between 1 percent and 2.4 percent in the colon cancer incidence rate for those between the ages of 20 to 39 and an increase of 3.2 percent each year in rectal cancer cases from 1974-2013.

Experts are unsure of the reason behind this increase, but genetics as well as environmental and lifestyle factors could be a component. Moffitt gastroenterologist Dr. Mark Friedman told SELF, “These are things like lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, and diabetes - all of which are prevalent in millennials.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States and the American Cancer Society estimates there will 95,500 cases of colon cancer and almost 40,000 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed this year.  With current guidelines advising not to begin routine colorectal screening until age 50 this new study highlights the importance of getting checked out by your doctor if you experience symptoms at any age.  Some symptoms can include the presence of blood in your stool, cramping or bloating, chronic constipation or diarrhea, unexpected weight loss formation of thin, ribbon-like stools and unexplained fatigue.

Colorectal cancer often develops slowly over several years and is most treatable when caught early. "The prognosis of colorectal cancer is usually related to the stage.  The later the stage, the poorer the prognosis," says Dr. Friedman.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer and five signs of colorectal cancer