New research indicates that colorectal cancer among the middle-aged and young which has been declining over decades in the US is now on the increase again. This has rattled researchers with questions arising as to whether screenings should be done earlier before the age of 50. Journal of the National Cancer Institute featured the study that reported colon cancer rates had had about a 1% to 2% increase annually from the mid-1980s to 2013 for individuals in their 30s and 20s. Middle-aged rates for grown-ups has also seen an increase but a much slower pace.
The recent decades saw the accelerated rise of rectal cancer rates with 2% yearly increases for people around 40 to 54 years and 3% annually for those in their 30s and 20s. This translates to out of every ten new rectal cancer cases, three of the patients diagnosed are below 55 which is double the number compared to 1990. This is contrary to adult rates above the age of 55 which has dropped over the last four decades. Rebecca Siegel from the American Cancer Society led the research and reiterated that earlier work indicated that the colorectal cancer growth incidence is mostly affecting the millennials and Gen X groups. She stated that this revelation was shocking and the underlying risk increase rate was even more alarming.
The study which also included NCI scientists, however, didn’t reveal what actually motivated the rising of the incidences, with Siegel suggesting factors such as sedentary lifestyle, diet, excess weight among others being some of the factors behind the shift. Colorectal cancer can be said to be the malignancies present in the rectum or colon which are also part of the large intestine.
Estimates by the American Cancer Society suggest that 2017 will see new rectal cancer diagnosis cases totaling up to 40,000 while that of colon cancer totaling 95,000 with around 50,000 people expected to succumb to colorectal cancer this year in the US. This latest study involved over 490,000 individuals over the age of 20 that were exposed to invasive colorectal cancer screening from 1974 to 2013, with a focus on specific years of birth and 5-year age brackets.
Comparison of the different generations with similar age showed individuals born in 1990 or around that time have double the chances of contracting colorectal cancer and quadruple chances of contracting rectal cancer compared to people born in the 1950s. 34-year Jessica Dilts is one of the subjects that was studied who was diagnosed with no rectal cancer only to later find out after a colonoscopy that it had spread to her liver and lungs.
She was put on aggressive chemotherapy and is expected to undergo maintenance chemotherapy until otherwise. So far, she’s doing well with the treatment and plans to get married in June. Nilofer Azad, an Oncologist at the Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, says that these are common cases seen by many doctors in their young patients.
Azad also stated, even though colorectal cancer instances increase, it’s still on the lower side with the disease getting diagnosed in one in every 100,000 individuals in their 20s and 50 in every 100,000 people above the age of 60; this is according to the research. Expert groups and the American Cancer Society have recommended that colonoscopies and other different tests get carried out from age 50 and onwards for individuals with lower risks while those with high risks to get earlier screening.
Azad also says an analysis should be done to determine if screening could start happening at age 45. The study showed that the slight decade difference of life accounts for why people in their early 50s have increased instances of colorectal cancer compared to the decreasing rate for those in their late 50s.