Published: Thu, March 02, 2017
Health Care | By Jeffery Armstrong

Colorectal cancer in USA millennials rises sharply

Colorectal cancer in USA millennials rises sharply

"Our finding that colorectal cancer risk among millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering", Siegel said.

Rectal cancer rates in adults who are 55 and older have generally been declining for at least 40 years.

By the mid-1990s, rates were also increasing 1.3 percent per year in adults in their forties and 0.5 percent for adults between the ages of 50 and 54.

These increases were occurring even as rates of these same cancers were falling among older adults, due in large part to better cancer screening, the team said.

A colonoscopy is recommended for all men and women at age 50 to screen for colon cancer. "What's different about the younger age group is that we don't have a screening protocol or guidelines as far as screening in this age group". And in adults 40 to 54, rectal cancer rates increased by 2% per year between the 1990s and 2013. Screening is crucial, Gray explains, because by the time people get symptoms checked out, the disease could have progressed to a stage that's harder to treat. The surge in rectal cancer incidence was even sharper, as it decreased by 2% per year for those aged 75 and older but increased by 4% annually for people in their 20s.

The authors of the JNCI study noted that while overall screening and detection rates have increased over time, these trends likely do not account for the age-related trends as younger people are still less likely to be screened. In its early stages, colon cancer is highly treatable, with a five-year survival rate of 90%, making it a stoppable and preventable disease through early detection.

Their findings pointed to improvements in older age groups but troubling patterns among young adults. The oddness of the situation is underlined by the fact that otherwise colorectal cancer rates dropped over the recent years in the general population because of tests and screenings like colonoscopies.

By breaking down the cases by age group, Siegel says, it's easier to disentangle generational changes such as differences in diet from trends in medical diagnosis and treatment, which vary less by age.

However, the increase in colorectal cancer risks should not make younger people feel overly fearful, Berlin said, noting that there are key symptoms that could signal something is wrong and lead a person to talk to their doctor.

The study, which included scientists at the NCI, didn't determine the reason for the shift.

Those same factors are also ones that can cause you to pack on the pounds, so it's no surprise that the rise in colorectal cancer parallels the obesity epidemic. In 2016, approx 130,000 Americans were diagnosed with colon cancer with over one third dying from the disease. According to the research, the rate of colorectal cancer in people in their 20's rise from one to two persons in every 200,000.

In 2016, approximately 9,900 Ontarians were diagnosed with colon cancer and roughly 3,200 Ontarians died from the disease.

A month before her college graduation, she got the news at age 22.

While scientists have not pinpointed an exact cause, prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets, said researchers from the American Cancer Society, reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers aren't sure exactly why, but they hope the study will spread more awareness.

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