Young adults are facing a bowel cancer "time bomb" due to their unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, scientists warn. They found that people born in the 90's have twice the risk of colon cancer, and five times the risk of rectal cancer than if they had been born in 1950. "But it's also been assumed that the underlying risk for this disease was also declining".
In 2013, about 10,400 cases of colon and rectal cancer were diagnosed in people in their 40s, and 12,800 cases were diagnosed in people in their early 50s, she said. Currently, screening is recommended to start at age 50.
The outlook is so bad that experts say the situation compares with the late 1800s - more than a century ago. But the magnitude of the increase identified "was just very shocking", she said, as was the finding that the underlying risk of colorectal cancer appears to be rising. "We have to do more for this generation - starting with the message to the public, to the medical community, to legislators and to everyone who will listen - that you're never too young for colorectal cancer".
The study did not explore why cancer rates were rising among younger adults, but Siegel said it may be linked with changes in physical activity levels and diet. But the CDC recommends cervical cancer screening for women once they turn 21. Colon cancer screening kits will be available, as well as educational materials about colonoscopies and screening methods. In Britain, nearly nine out of 10 people with the disease are over 60 years old. But what researchers found is a dichotomy between the younger and older groups.
Overall, bowel cancer has been declining in the U.S. since the mid 1980s, with steeper drops in the most recent decade driven by screening.
If you are over the age of 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, please pick up your free colorectal screening kit at Community Oncology Center, located on the west side of the Main Campus at 3500 South Lafountain in Kokomo. It has been increasing in that age group every year since the mid-1980s. They used what's called "age-period-cohort modeling", a tool created to disentangle factors that influence all age groups, such as changes in medical practice and procedures, from factors that vary by generation, such as changes in behavior that may affect health.
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For rectal cancer, the rise has been more pronounced, climbing about three percent per year from the mid-1970s onward in people aged 20 to 39. Rates of rectal cancer diagnoses among these adults rose even more dramatically, jumping to 2.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2013, from 0.7 cases per 100,000 in 1980.
The research is the latest to show a steady increase in new diagnoses of colorectal cancer among adults under 50. But for younger adults, colon cancer rates increased during the same period.
"Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden", said Siegel.
For adults aged 40 to 54, rectal cancer rates increased by 2 percent per year from the 1990s to 2013.
Signs of colon cancer include rectal bleeding, pain in the abdomen, fatigue, weight loss, an incomplete feeling after pooping or a change in bowel habits.