Young onset colon cancer is steadily increasing among people under the age of 50. According to recent statistics, the rate of young onset colon cancer has increased by 11 percent between 2004 and 2011, and the trend is expected to continue. Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center predict that cases of colon cancer among people between the ages of 20 to 34 will increase by 90 percent in 2030.
Colon cancer among the young is particularly a problem among minority groups. Durado Brooks, M.D., managing director of cancer control intervention at the American Cancer Society, said, “African-Americans are about twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed before the age of 50. Young Alaska natives are diagnosed at three times the rate of whites. And this is not a uniquely American phenomenon. European nations and Australia are also seeing a rise.”
Research also shows that colon cancer in younger individuals is more likely to be diagnosed in advanced stages and require more aggressive treatment. Because young people are not aware of the symptoms of colon cancer, they often ignore warning signs, such as rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits. Bleeding can sometimes be misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids or fissures, so it is important for both patients and primary care physicians to not disregard the possibility of colon cancer.
The best way that you can protect yourself from developing colon cancer is to know the symptoms and make regular visits to your primary care physician. The warning signs of colon cancer are rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, changes in appearance or frequency of stool, abdominal cramping, anemia, nausea, vomiting, or unexplained weight loss (Source: WebMD).
If you are experiencing any changes in your bowel habits or are feeling pain, do not delay in contacting your doctor. Colon cancer is highly treatable when discovered in the early stages, so make an appointment to discuss your concerns.