Colon Cancer on the Rise Among Gen Xers, Millennials

Colon cancer rates increasing for young Americans

The study found after decreasing since 1974, colon cancer incidence rates increased by 1% to 2% per year from the mid-1980s in adults aged 20 to 39.

Opposing trends in young and older adults over two decades have closed a previously wide gap in disease risk for people in their early 50s, compared to those in their late 50s.

Although no definitive reason for the increased cancer risk for millennials was given, study leader Rebecca Siegel of the American Cancer Society said changes in diet, a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, and low fiber consumption may be causing the rapid increase. For adults 40 to 54, rates increased by.5 percent to one percent per year from the mid-1990s through 2013.

Yet another study has found that colorectal cancer incidence rates are rising among young and middle-aged adults - two age groups that don't now undergo regular screening for the potentially fatal disease.

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And while the majority of rectal cancer diagnoses are still in patients over age 55, three in 10 diagnoses are in patients younger than 55. And that's a problem, sincecolon cancer screening is not recommended until age 50. "The proportion of rectal cancer diagnosed in adults younger than age 55 years has doubled in just two decades". Recently though, studies have reported increasing CRC incidence in adults under 50, for whom screening is not recommended for those at average risk. They also advise people to avoid eating a diet that's dominated by processed meats, which some studies have shown could be linked to developing colorectal cancer and other bowel disease.

Alarming news from the American Cancer Society Tuesday, rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising in people in their 40s, 30s and even 20s. If this latest research is any indication, the guidelines for screenings may be subject to change if additional studies also indicate the rate of these cancers are on the rise. "But that's not what we see", she said.

But if these trends continue, it would be wise to do more research to determine what the public health impact would be of starting screening earlier, he added. In adults 40 to 54, rates increased by 0.5 to one per cent per a year from the mid-1990s through 2013.

Siegel said she hopes young adults and their doctors will be more vigilant in recognizing the signs of colorectal cancer.

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These increases were occurring even as rates of these same cancers were falling among older adults, due in large part to better cancer screening, the team said.

They rose about three per cent per year from 1974 to 2013 in adults aged 20 to 29 and from 1980 to 2013 in adults aged 30 to 39.

The disease is still far less common in twenty-somethings than in older people, with about 1 case in every 100,000 people, but Ms Siegel said the rising incidence could point to higher rates in the future.

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