You’re Never Too Young to be at High Risk for Colon Cancer

While colon cancer is steadily decreasing in individuals 55 and older, research suggests rates are increasing in age groups commonly referred to as Generation X and Millennials. The American Cancer Society reiterated the rise in young-onset by stating more than 10 per 100,000 adults between the ages of 20 to 49 were afflicted with the disease in 2007, which is up from more than 8 per 100,000 in 1992. Today, Individuals born in 1990 have double the risk of developing colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer. Increased cancer rates are influenced by poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol and tobacco use, and processed food and red meat consumption. Other risk factors include race, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, and family history of cancer.

A recent partnership between the Colon Cancer Alliance, Bowel Cancer UK and the Colon Cancer Prevention Project was created to launch the Never Too Young campaign to warn people about the rise in colon cancer diagnoses and mortality rates in people younger than 50 years old; it is typically referred to as young-onset. Colon cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the world and the 2nd leading cause in the U.S. Young-onset has been causing great concern because it takes much longer to diagnose and typically appears at an advanced stage that can be fatal.

Individuals whose families have a history of colon cancer should see a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. It is recommended people who are high risk get a colonoscopy at the age of 40. The procedure is quick – lasting only 15-20 minutes – and painless. Prior to the procedure intravenous medication – Propofol – is administered to ensure the patient stays asleep throughout the entire procedure. A colonoscopy will allow the physician to diagnose and remove polyps in the colon, which if not removed, can lead to colon cancer.

To make an appointment for a colonoscopy, contact InSite Digestive Health Care.