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By Ackerman Cancer Center


American Cancer Society Addresses Rising Colon Cancer Rates Among Younger Adults

Colorectal cancer rates have climbed among Gen Xers and Millennials, according to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study revealed that while, historically, colorectal cancer diagnoses have been largely limited to adults in their late 50s or older, the rates are rising in younger adults. Currently, individuals born in 1990 are twice as likely to get colon cancer and four times more likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer than those born around 1950.

Although an exact cause is not clear, the changes coincide with the obesity epidemic. And just as poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles lead to obesity, they also increase an individual’s risk for colon and rectal cancer.  

In response, the American Cancer Society has updated their colorectal cancer screening guidelines to include the following:

  • Colorectal screening starting at age 45 for adults of average risk
  • Those in good health with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue routine colorectal cancer screening through age 75
  • Individuals ages 76 through 85 should discuss with their medical provider whether or not to continue screenings as determined by personal preference, screening history, life expectancy and health status
  • Ceasing all colon cancer screenings after age 85

Screening test options include stool-based tests and visual exams. How screenings are done is less important than having the screening. Patients are advised to check their insurance coverage and discuss the various screening tests with a medical provider to find the best fit. Test options include:

  • Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) yearly
  • Highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) yearly
  • Multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every 3 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonoscopy) every 5 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years

Those at higher risk due to family or personal history should discuss when to start colorectal screenings and which testing method would be most suitable.

Most colorectal cancers are highly treatable when diagnosed early. Undergoing routine colon cancer screening and following up on all abnormal tests is prudent.

For questions about colorectal cancer or screenings, please contact us at 904-880-5522.

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