Wellness Tips

Colorectal Cancer on the Rise Among Younger Adults

While colorectal cancer, called colon cancer, is often considered a disease that primarily affects older adults, recent studies suggest that more younger Americans are being diagnosed with the illness. Given that colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, this trend should be taken seriously.

In February, the American Cancer Society reported that 20% of colon cancer cases were among people 55 and younger — an increase from 1995 when 11% of cases occurred among this age group. Further research also shows the incidence of colon cancer in people younger than 50 has steadily increased in recent decades, as had the number of younger people dying from the disease.

Early detection is crucial when it comes to colon cancer, and screenings are a critical component of maintaining good health.

“Diagnosing colon cancer at an early stage is critical as the survival rate can be as high as 90%,” said Karl Kwok, MD, a gastroenterologist with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. “Thanks to regular screenings and the technology available today, we can detect advanced precancerous polyps and, in many cases, remove them using techniques that won’t require surgery or hospital stays.”

Colon cancer usually starts in the colon or rectum from precancerous polyps or growths. The disease usually doesn’t cause symptoms until after it’s spread, so that’s why screening is essential. If detected early, precancerous polyps can be removed before they turn into cancer, or cancer can be caught at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.

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