Although the overall rate of colon cancer has fallen in recent decades, new research suggests that over the last 20 years the disease has been increasing among young and early middle-aged American adults.
At issue are colon cancer rates among men and women between the ages of 20 and 49, a group that generally isn’t covered by public health guidelines.
“This is real,” said study co-author Jason Zell, an assistant professor in the departments of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine.
“Multiple research organizations have shown that colon cancer is rising in those under 50, and our study found the same, particularly among very young adults,” he said. “Which means that the epidemiology of this disease is changing, even if the absolute risk among young adults is still very low.”
Results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.
The study authors noted that more than 90 percent of those with colon cancer are 50 and older. Most Americans (those with no family history or heightened risk profile) are advised to start screening at age 50.
Despite remaining the third most common cancer in the United States (and the number two cause of cancer deaths), a steady rise in screening rates has appeared to be the main driving force behind a decades-long plummet in overall colon cancer rates, according to background information in the study.
An analysis of U.S. National Cancer Institute data, published last November in JAMA Surgery, indicated that, as a whole, colon cancer rates had fallen by roughly 1 percent every year between 1975 and 2010.
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SOURCE: WebMD News from HealthDay