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Increasing Colon Cancer in Young Adults: Why Should You Be Screened?

Increasing Colon Cancer in Young Adults: Why Should You Be Screened?

colon cancer in young peopleWhen we hear the words “colon cancer,” most of us think about people in their late 50’s and 60’s. Well, new cases of colon cancer and rectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among young and middle-aged adults in the US. In fact, someone born in the 1990s now has double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer compared to people born around 1950. This uptick has been progressing since the 1980’s. Simultaneously, colon cancer diagnoses among people older than 55 have been decreasing.

More Colon Cancer in Younger People

Researchers are unsure what is causing more colon cancer cases among younger people. It could be a combination of stress, dietary choices and other behaviors. People younger than 55 are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer than older people often because most 20-30 somethings don’t  have cancer on their radar. They are more likely to disregard symptoms  or assume that they’re due to something harmless like hemorrhoids, which can delay treatment.

Since,the increase of colorectal cancer cases may be due to the increased rate of obesity, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity, you can lower your risk by engaging in healthy habits such as:

  • Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats).
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Watching your weight.
  • Avoiding tobacco.
  • Limiting alcohol. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.

Young patients should be aware of colorectal cancer signs and symptoms and report any changes to their health care provider.

The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Stools that are very narrow, like a pencil

We do have good news!

Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.  Testing can find colon or rectal cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat. In some cases, screening finds growths called polyps that can be removed before they become cancer.

Prevention is your number one line of defense against cancer. Colon cancer is no longer  just an “old man’s disease.” If you have concerns about colorectal  cancer or if you have a family history of colorectal  cancer, please give us a call at 662-282-4226 to schedule a screening.






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