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Colorectal Cancer on the Rise in Young Adults

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Colorectal Cancer on the Rise in Young Adults

Sep 02, 2020

It's always heartbreaking to hear of a person who passed away due to cancer. 

We're mourning the loss and wish the best for the family of Chadwick Boseman. For many, Mr. Boseman became a cultural icon as he portrayed massive roles as Black Panther, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall, which makes his passing especially hard. 

It reminds our staff of our own mission and the importance of our continued fight against colorectal cancer. We stress the importance of health screenings, particularly colonoscopies- because colon cancer doesn't have to be as devastating as it has previously been.

Typically, adults who are over 50 years of age are encouraged to be screened for colorectal cancer because that’s when we are at higher risk. However, the suggested screening age has been lowered to 45 by the American Cancer Society, as we're discovering that young adults are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a faster rate. When cancer goes undetected for a longer period of time, it results in later stages at diagnosis, which is more difficult to treat. 

Early detection opens up your options for treatment and dramatically increases the effectiveness of that treatment.

When Should I Get A Colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of death among men and the third leading cause of death among women. Colorectal cancers are treatable if caught at an early stage and before the cancer has spread to other organs.

The reasons that men and women under the age of 50 are at risk for both colon and rectal cancer is undetermined. Even though doctors are unsure what is causing this rise in diagnosis, the facts cannot be ignored. Almost one-third of rectal cancer has been found in adults that are below the age of 55. Furthermore, those born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer compared to adults born in 1950. Despite this increase in risk, there has not been an increase in screenings

While the suggested age for screening has been officially lowered to 45, it's important that you consider your own family history with colon cancer and start watching for symptoms before then and talk to your doctor if you suspect any changes in your health. African Americans show a higher risk for colon cancer as well, so should also consider early screenings.

Colorectal Cancer on the Rise in Young Adults

Possible Symptoms Of Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Pencil-thin stools
  • Unknown Reasons for Dramatic Weight Loss
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping in the Abdomen
  • Gas & Bloating

Obviously, some of these symptoms can occur on their own and don't often indicate something as serious as cancer, which is why regular screenings are important. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, a sedentary lifestyle, or smoke excessively, you are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer. If, at any point, you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

The Screening Process

Most of the time, colorectal cancer develops from abnormal growths that form along the wall of the large intestine. These growths are known as polyps and are typically noncancerous. During a colorectal screening, these polyps can be detected and removed preventing cancer from forming in the colon. The most common screening test is a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy your gastroenterologist will check the rectum and entire length of the colon for polyps. If any polyps are located the doctor can remove them during the exam. 

Make an appointment with one of our doctors at Carolina Digestive and we’ll help put your mind at ease. Don’t take a chance; make an appointment today.