A Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) study found that colon cancer rates among people age 20-39 are increasing 1-2.4% per year. The incidence of colon cancer in people 40-49 is increasing more rapidly than for any other age group. Some physicians and researchers believe this alarming trend could be the result of poor diet, inactive lifestyle and simply not knowing the risk factors for or symptoms of colorectal cancer. Watch Robert Donegan, MD, medical oncologist at GBMC, discuss this topic on ABC2 News.
You are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer if you:
- have a family history of colorectal cancer
- have a history of colorectal cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease yourself
- are African American or Jewish of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi)
- have type 2 diabetes
- drink alcohol heavily
- are overweight or obese
- are physically inactive
- consume a diet high in red meat and processed meat
- have a certain genetic condition (such as Lynch syndrome, Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome)
Physicians want you to know that, regardless of your age,
- there are no early warning symptoms of colon cancer or polyps. Screening before symptoms begin gives the best opportunity to prevent cancer by detecting and removing the pre-cancerous polyps. Detecting cancer during screening tests greatly increases the chance that the cancer is in a curable stage.
- once symptoms occur, if there is a cancer, it is more likely to be a more advanced cancer, and is less likely to be curable
- symptoms that should warrant an investigation at any age include:
- Persistent, significant change in bowel function (diarrhea or constipation)
- Rectal bleeding
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss and new onset fatigue (It’s important to note that these may be features of advanced cancer from any source and are not specific to colorectal cancer.)
We also encourage you to join us for a Facebook Live on Thursday, March 23 at 10 a.m. GBMC Gastroenterologist Dr. Niraj Jani and ABC2's Ashley James will take questions on digestive disorders. You can click here to submit a question in advance.