More younger adults are being diagnosed with colon cancer – also known as colorectal cancer – and at more advanced stages of the disease, says the American Cancer Society.
It’s a trend experts have seen over the last decade.
Colon cancer symptoms usually don’t appear in early stages of the disease, and when they do appear, the disease is often already at an advanced stage.
Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr Johanna Chan says it’s important to recognise colon cancer symptoms and to seek medical attention if you experience them.
The US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society recommend patients of average risk start screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 45.
“Colon cancer is an incredibly common cancer – routinely one of the top five causes of cancer annually.
“And really, anyone is at risk at any age,” says Dr Chan.
She shares that the age of patients is more often under 55.
“We are seeing younger patients present with colon cancer.
“And unfortunately, they also tend to present at a more advanced stage,” she says.
Ongoing stomach discomfort and unexplained weight loss can be colon cancer symptoms.
“In fact, a lot of the warning symptoms, such as rectal bleeding, anaemia, change in bowel habits, these are very common symptoms that happen across all ranges of age groups,” she explains.
Most young healthy patients with rectal bleeding won’t have colon cancer though.
However, she notes: “It’s still on the possible list of diagnoses.
“And it’s really important that young patients seek care for any of these symptoms that occur.”
Many of the colon cancer symptoms may be symptoms of other health issues, so it is recommended to talk with your healthcare team to find out the cause of the problem.
Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:
- Family history
- Bowel disease
- Environmental exposure to risk factors, like smoking or heavy alcohol use.
Dr Chan says certain specific factors such as family history, may require a more individualised approach for colorectal cancer screening.
She encourages patients to talk to their healthcare team to make sure they are individualising recommendations for them. – By Deb Balzer/Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service