Colon cancer diagnoses at younger ages

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Adults across the nation are being diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers at younger ages. Now, 1 in 5 new cases are among people in their early 50s or younger, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society. There have also been more diagnoses of advanced stages of cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men younger than 50. There is also a rising impact on young Hispanic adults. The American Cancer Society and the US Preventative Task Force recommend adults with an average risk now get their first colonoscopy at 45.

Today Arizona Horizon welcomes Dr. Michael Choti, Chief of Surgery of the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center to talk more about the subject.

When asked what could be causing the cancer in these younger populations, Dr. Choti said there is no specific cause that can be linked to this trend as of right now.

“The convention was that it was a disease of older individuals,” said Dr. Choti. “No question about it, the incident seems to be going down gradually over time. Nothing specific. Is it diet, is it lifestyle? Nothing has been particularly linked to this trend.”

Screening for younger patients

Dr. Choti explains why diagnoses can be of much more concern in younger patients.

“Screening an asymptomatic individual is the optimal way to diagnose. It’s the most common way colorectal cancer is diagnosed. But, the average risk patient screening is not recommended until someone is a little bit older,” said Dr. Choti.

Younger patients don’t receive screening for colorectal cancer and that can also be attributed to a higher risk of colon cancer when older, since the symptoms can be commonly mistaken for something else.

“Often young patients may delay seeking medical attention and diagnoses because they don’t anticipate that they have it,” said Dr. Choti.

Therefore, it is now recommended that individuals with an average risk get their first colonoscopy screening at age 45.

Dr. Michael Choti

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