‘Troubling’ rise in colorectal cancer among US adults under 55

Cancer Deaths
Posted at 3:27 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 17:51:40-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — I am seeing more younger people with colorectal cancer. And it’s really concerning because, in the overall population, numbers have actually been declining.

According to a new report from the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer cases have nearly doubled among Americans younger than 55. The rates increased from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019. What’s also concerning is that 60% of all new cases in 2019 were advanced-stage cancer - meaning the disease had already spread from where it first started.

As to why the rates are rising in younger people, unfortunately, we’re just not sure why they’re heading in the wrong direction. Some factors may be tied to people’s diet, obesity, or environmental changes. There’s a lot of research happening right now and hopefully we’ll know more in the near future.

Everyone with an average risk should start getting screened for colorectal cancer once they turn 45. It’s the best protection against this cancer and could save your life.

There are a few different screening methods. The gold star, in my opinion, is a colonoscopy. That’s because it’s a visual exam that uses a long, flexible tube. And if any suspicious polyps are found, they can be removed right then. But there are also other less invasive tests like stool-based tests.

As for symptoms, here’s what to watch out for:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • A change in bowel habits – for instance, having persistent diarrhea or constipation

Also, watch for:

  • Abdominal pain, cramps, or gas that’s not going away
  • A feeling that you can’t empty your bowels completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss

If you have any of these symptoms, definitely be proactive and talk to your family physician. Data estimates that this year alone, there’ll be just over 153,000 new cases of colorectal cancer. And while more people are surviving due to new treatments, over 52,500 people are estimated to die in 2023. And, unfortunately, 7% of this group will be people under the age of 55. So don’t push off getting screened.