Colorectal cancers have conventionally been associated with older adults but the incidence of colorectal cancers have been steadily increasing in young adults. An American Cancer Society study has found that rates of colorectal cancer have risen dramatically in younger adults (younger than 55 years).
"People born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer compared to people born in 1950," said Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. She added although the absolute risk is still small in younger people they possess the risk forward with them as they age.
Being overweight and sedentary lifestyles are linked to colorectal cancer. In addition to it, heavy alcohol use and chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and type 2 diabetes are also the contributing factors. However, experts are not fully convinced these are the only reasons, incidence of colorectal cancer is rising among young adults. Dr. Mohamed E. Salem, an assistant professor at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Georgetown University said, the honest truth is nobody knows 100 percent why there is an increase.
Young adults with colorectal cancer run the added risk of getting a diagnosis later in the course of disease, when the cancer may be less treatable,because doctors generally do not consider the diagnosis at such a young age. Doctors are more likely to misdiagnose cases of blood in stool as internal hemorrhoids which later develop into advanced colon cancer.
Studies emphasize, “we need educational campaigns to inform the general public about the signs of colorectal cancer and to follow up if they have symptoms consistent with the disease. That can move the needle of diagnosis to an earlier stage of disease, where treatment is more effective”