• Bowel Cancers Rising in Young Generations
  • March 11, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • A new report revealed the rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) has been increasing at an alarming rate in young adults. However, the rate of CRC has decreased in patients over 50 years old, leading to calls for further studies to explore not only trends varied by age, but also preventative measures.

    The study monitored 393,241 patients diagnosed with CRC between 1975 and 2010. For young adults, those 20 to 34 years of age as identified by the study, the rate of CRC increased by about 2 percent a year during that time. If this trend continues then the rates of colon cancer in young adults will increase by more than 90 percent by 2030.

    Dr. George J. Chang, lead author of the study and associate professor of surgical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said there has been more screening for bowel cancers since the mid 1980s, and though much progress has been made in eliminating cases in older generations, this news demonstrates a new concern regarding the younger generations.

    Finding a cause

    Forbes noted the difficulties professionals had in identifying a single cause for the increase, and that more needs to be done to look at this sudden rise of CRC. However, current lifestyle trends are the initial place to start. Chang acknowledged diets high in fat and processed foods are known risk factors for CRC.

    "Factors like obesity, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with increased risk," Chang said. "We need research to study why this is happening."

    Dr. Alexandra Drakaki, oncologist and cancer researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles' David Geffen School of Medicine was not involved with the recent study, but spoke with Forbes about the relationship that food and inflammation have with cancer.

    "In general, we think that chronic inflammation may be a factor in cancer growth," Drakaki said. "In some people, a high fat, high sugar diet may play a role."

    Not common in young people
    What is most concerning to healthcare professionals is that CRC is typically affiliated with older generations, and routine screening is not common for those under 50 years old.

    Rebecca Siegel, the cancer society's director of surveillance information, hopes the study will ignite more research about the early-onset of colorectal cancer, reported the Houston Chronicle.

    "But the take-home lesson for now is that both clinicians and individuals need to be more alert to symptoms of colon cancer regardless of age," Siegel said. "Neither usually think of colorectal cancer in young patients. Both need to be more mindful of the possibility."