Colorectal Cancers Strike Younger Patients

colon cancer young ageColonoscopy screening tests have cut colorectal cancer rates in the last two decades. And most of the time, you won’t have to think about getting a colonoscopy until you’re 50. But a recent boost of colorectal cancers in younger patients may make you think twice about waiting to be screened. The good news? There are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Study Reports More Cases in Younger Patients

A new study predicts that by 2030, nearly one in four rectal cancers—and more than one in 10 colon cancers—will occur in patients younger than 50. That’s an increase from 10 percent and 5 percent in 2010. And adults ages 20 to 34 will see the sharpest increase; researchers expect their rates to rise 124 percent and 90 percent.

Doctors aren’t sure why these cancer rates are increasing in younger patients. But it does show that more older adults are getting colonoscopies than they used to. And when their rates of colorectal cancers decline, the cancer rates of younger patients increase automatically.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

But other factors may be to blame. In younger Americans, lack of physical activity, obesity, and eating a more traditional Western diet are all on the rise. And all can increase the risk for colorectal cancers.

Thankfully, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can decrease your chances of developing the disease. Follow these four tips to reduce your risk:

1. Lose extra pounds. Dropping extra lbs. can cut your risk of developing this type of cancer.

2. Exercise. Even moderate physical activity can decrease your chances.

3. Don’t smoke. Cigarettes have been linked to adenomas—growths that can turn into cancer. If you smoke, these growths are more likely to come back even after they have been surgically removed.

4. Get screened. If you have colitis, Crohn’s disease, or a family history of colorectal cancer, your doctor may suggest an early screening. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to every screening, so talk with your doctor to decide what’s best for you.

Are you due for a colorectal cancer screening? Learn more about your risk factors and screening options: