Thursday, June 13, 2024

Colon Cancer Deaths Have Risen Among Younger Men and Women

Colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men under the age of 50, and is the second deadliest cancer among women within the same age range.

Over the past two decades, cases of colon cancer have risen significantly – from being the fourth leading cause of cancer death for both genders under the age of 50.

For both gender and all age groups, lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer death. For men, the second deadliest cancer is prostate cancer while for women it’s breast cancer.

While the number of overall cancer deaths has gone down in the U.S., the number of colon and rectal cancers has gone up significantly, according to the American Cancer Society. The findings were published in the scientific journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

colorectal cancer

Traditionally, cancer is a disease that’s often seen among the elderly. Since 1995, however, the number of cases seen in those above the age of 65 has gone down from 61 percent to 58 percent.

The decrease is often attributed to drops in smoking-related and prostate cancers, though, the number of people in those age groups has actually gone up from 13 percent to 17 percent.

For adults between the ages of 50 to 64, incidences have increased from 25 percent to 30 percent since 1995.

Rates of endometrial and breast cancer, in addition to mouth and throat disease, have also been increasing. However, the report did not include a breakdown of diagnoses by age group.

The recent findings agree with what oncologists have been observing for years.

According to Dr. Kimmie Ng, the director of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Center, the patients that have been entering their clinic have gotten younger and younger over the past couple of decades.

The chief scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. William Dahut, said younger men and women tend to be diagnosed later, when the cancer has already spread and is more aggressive.

sierra fuller

33-year-old Sierra Fuller was shocked when she received a diagnosis of late-stage colorectal cancer in 2021. It was around the holidays when she noticed blood in her stool. However, she was not worried at the time as she had no family history of colon cancer and figured the blood was likely due to a hemorrhoid.

However, the blood never went away even after several weeks. She then started to experience abdominal pain.

A month after she first started to experience symptoms, she went to the doctor, who conducted several tests. Results came back and revealed she had stage 3b colorectal cancer, meaning that it had already started to spread to nearby lymph nodes.

It was a devastating blow for Fuller and her partner, who had just started to talk about expanding their family. They ultimately decided to freeze embryos before she underwent treatment, which consisted of hemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

sierra fuller 2

Fast forward a year later and she is now cancer-free, however, she must go for regular blood tests and scans. She is also always worried that the cancer will return.

Why is Colorectal Cancer Rising in Younger Men and Women?

Experts do not know why colorectal cancer is becoming more common in younger people. Some believe it may be due to increasing sedentary behavior, obesity rates, and unhealthy diets.

However, Dr. Kimmie Ng noted that many of their patients ‘do not fit that profile’ and that many are ‘marathon runners’.

red meat
Minimizing red meat in the diet may lower the risk of colorectal cancer

She suspects the cause may be environmental.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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