Colon cancer is considered to be a dangerous type of cancer that can lead to death if it is diagnosed too late or not treated appropriately. Cancer affects the colon and can also spread towards the rectum, in which case it is referred to as colorectal cancer. In 2016, a total of 134,490 new cases of colon cancer were diagnosed in America. This accounted for 8% of all cancer-related diagnoses that was done in the United States. There were also 49,190 cases of death caused by colon cancer in 2016, which accounted for 8.3% of cancer-related deaths in the country.
This data provides evidence that the type of cancer is rather common. While the majority of diagnosis related to colon cancer is made among individuals aged between 65 and 74, medical experts are concerned about the sudden rise in colon cancer cases among younger individuals – more specifically, those born between 1990 and 1999.
A Rise in The Prevalence Of Colon Cancer Among Young People
Fox 5’s news channel recently had a talk with three doctors that are concerned about an uprise in the diagnosis of colon cancer among young people. They explain that, while the cancer is usually diagnosed in people older than 50, however it is still possible for younger people to develop this cancer. The problem is, in the last two decades, younger people have been diagnosed with colon cancer than ever before. The doctors, along with a board of medical scientists, analyzed data related to just under 500,000 cases related to colorectal cancer, which includes both colon and rectum cancer. All of the files were related to cases diagnosed between 1974 and 2013. After they had completed the review study, the found that a person that was born in 1990 may be at a significantly higher risk (between 200% and 400%) of being diagnosed with colon cancer than a person that was born in 1950 was at a specific age.
While the group has not been able to detect a specific reason why this increase is occurring, they have noticed some trends that also increased with the diagnosis of colon cancer, which means these trends may have an impact on the higher prevalence that is now seen among younger people. Some of the trends they have noticed include:
- Young people tend to ignore potential symptoms that may signal the development of growths and cancer in their colon. They may also be unaware of the specific symptoms; which means they would not know when to see a doctor.
- There is a rising prevalence of obesity with the trends of colon cancer in young people today. While obesity does not directly lead to colon cancer, it has health impacts that increase a person’s chance of developing this cancer.
- Due to lifestyle and behavior changes, accompanied by the rising trends of obesity, more young people are living inactive lifestyle; which puts them at a higher risk for colon cancer.
Controlling and Preventing the Trend from Increasing Further
To prevent the prevalence of colon cancer among young people to rise any further and to effectively control the epidemic, action needs to be taken – not only by young people themselves but also by individuals, such as doctors, that can help these young people become more aware of the symptoms and know when a screening for colon cancer is necessary.
The first important step is to get young people to be more aware of the symptoms of colon and rectum cancer. When they are properly educated about these symptoms, they would be able to identify symptoms in themselves and know when it is time to see a doctor for a screening. Mayo Clinic reports that the most common symptoms include:
- Blood may be present in the stool and blood may be deposited from the rectum.
- Bowel movement habits can change. This may include constipation, diarrhea and a change in the consistency of stool. To consider a change in bowel movements a symptom, the changes should last for four weeks or more.
- Many patients with colon cancer find that the disease causes fatigue and makes them feel weak.
- Body weight may decrease without any explanation or reason – such as without increasing physical activity.
- Gas, pain and cramps may be experienced, along with abdominal discomfort. These symptoms are persistent in patients with colon cancer.
Any person experiencing one or more of these symptoms should be advised to seek medical attention. Even when the source of these symptoms or not colon cancer, it may be a medical issue that still needs treatment. In some cases, it could also be growths that can be removed before they become cancerous – in which case colon cancer can be completely avoided sometimes.
Colon cancer is mostly diagnosed in patients that have reached the age of 50. This, however, does not mean that individuals under this age can also develop cancer. In fact, a recent review study has provided evidence that the rate at which colon cancer is diagnosed in younger people are rising quickly, which causes concern because younger people tend to ignore these symptoms and doctors often only do screenings for colon cancer on patients that are older than 50 years. Creating awareness of this rise in the prevalence of colon cancer among younger people has thus become an essential part of diagnosing the disease at an early stage and reducing the risk of death due to colon cancer in younger people.