According to recent research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the rate of young adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are diagnosed with colon cancer is on the rise. Counterintuitively, the rate of adults aged 50 and over with colon cancer has declined. The decline is likely due to an increase in regular cancer screenings which are offered to all adults over 50 per the national standard of care in America. These regular screenings identify potential warning signs for colorectal cancer that if caught early enough, can improve one’s prognosis significantly.
Because regular colon screenings are not offered to adults between the ages of 20 and 49, it is often too late for minimally invasive treatment options once a patient in this population is diagnosed. Offering colon cancer screening tests to younger age groups is not going to prevent the highest risk patients from developing colorectal cancer. However, screening younger age groups could help to identify signs of cancer earlier, allowing for a more optimistic outcome. These findings highlight the importance of extending regular testing to lower age groups, especially those with a genetic predisposition.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adults with an increased risk of colon cancer to start their regular screenings at an earlier age than the standard of care’s suggested ‘50’. To reduce your risk of colon cancer, it is recommended by the Mayo Clinic to eat a healthy diet (containing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), maintain a healthy weight, stay active, avoid smoking, and avoid high amounts of alcohol intake. To read Mayo Clinic’s full list of preventative techniques, visit their colon cancer prevention page here.
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial to ensure that you are offered regular colonoscopies if you are an adult over the age of 50 (and again, if you are at a higher risk with a family history of colorectal cancer, this should be done earlier). If you or a family member was diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer and you feel it could have been picked up earlier, contact our firm for a free consultation. Visit our topic-specific page on colon cancer here.