What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States for men and women combined. However, if the cancer is found at an early stage, it can often be treated and cured. Colorectal cancer can be prevented through routine screenings, which can find and remove adenomatous, or pre-cancerous, polyps before they develop into cancer.

Revelation of Recent Studies Regarding CRC rates

Screenings for CRC is generally recommended for adults starting at age 50, but a recent study from the American Cancer Society indicated that the rate of colorectal cancer cases is increasing for younger adults. They reported that people under the age of 55 are 58% more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer compared to the older population.

Subsequently, another study showed that the colorectal cancer mortality rates in adults ages 20-54 have increased by 1% each year from 2004 to 2014. The reasons for such an increase in incidence and mortality rates are currently unknown.

Take-home Message 

These trends showed in these two studies support a greater need for earlier screening in younger adults to prevent further increase in mortality rates. Since cancer is highly unsuspected in younger adults, their diagnosis is often delayed. Common symptoms, including change in bowel habits, blood in stool, abdominal pain, are mistaken for more common problems instead. For that reason, screening would be a key measure to take to determine a diagnosis early on. In particular, younger adults who have first-degree relatives with colorectal cancer and/or colon polyps have a higher risk; therefore, it is recommended to begin screening before the standard age of 50. Additionally, individuals with family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch Syndrome, etc., should also undergo early screening.





Author Fiona Miao Patient Care Coordinator

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