Rising rates of cancer in young adults

Posted on Dec 20, 2016 | No Comments

This is from a Medscape article that was published on 12/20/2016:

The Rise in Colorectal Cancer Among Younger Adults

We start with disturbing news about the increase in colorectal cancer in younger patients. Researchers aren’t sure why this is occurring.

The American Cancer Society predicts 136,000 new cases in 2016, of whom 1 in 7 will be under the age of 50. A recent study showed that rates among this group increased by more than 11% between 2004 and 2014.

And it’s predicted that colon cancer among people ages 20-34 will increase by an unprecedented 90% by 2030. Some minority populations, including African Americans and native Alaskans, are two to three times, respectively, more likely to be diagnosed at a young age.

Current guidelines call for screening to begin for most patients at the age of 50. This means that younger patients may not be diagnosed until the cancer is advanced, in some cases after months to years of symptoms that would raise red flags in older adults.

To avoid missing the diagnosis, we need to be more vigilant when working up problems such as rectal bleeding or iron-deficiency anemia. We also should better identify patients at risk—including those with a family history of colorectal cancer, Lynch syndrome, or familial adenomatous polyposis—and screen and treat them at an earlier age.

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