Surge in Colon Cancer: What Gen X, Millennials and Gen Zer’s Need To Know


CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and today we are looking into the surge in colon cancer cases … especially in people under the age of 50. Colon cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths for men under 50 and second leading cause for women. The average age to be diagnosed is 67, so why are more people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s being told they have it? And get this, rates are expected to double in young people by 2030. In fact, colorectal cancer is expected to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in people under 50 by the end of the decade. Now researchers want to know why.

Carmen Susman says, “I felt great. So, when all of this happened, it was a kick in the chest.”

Colon cancer was the last thing on Carmens’ mind. Forty-six, married with two young daughters, he was just hitting his stride.

Carmen says, “We were hiking. We were walking every day.”

Carmen, like most younger patients, was initially not alarmed by the symptoms.

“You just attribute that to what you ate yesterday or something like that.” Explains Carmen.

But it was something much worse … colon cancer. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic say colon cancer has a broad range of symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss, meaning it can go unnoticed for months, even years.

David Liska, MD, Colorectal Surgeon, at The Cleveland Clinic says, “We found that in young people, once they’re diagnosed with colorectal cancer, they’re diagnosed at a more advanced stage.”

Although one in three people diagnosed before 50 have a family history, studies have shown what you eat matters.

“Some things that have been consistently shown to increase the risk for colorectal cancer are diets that are high in red meats and excessive alcohol intake.” explains Doctor Liska.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that high-fat diets change gut bacteria and alter digestive molecules, causing inflammation, and increasing the chance of colorectal cancer.

“If you find colon cancer early, there is a very high chance you are cured of that cancer.” Explains Dale Shepherd, MD, Oncologist at The Cleveland Clinic.

Carmen says, “So, i think the most important thing that they should do is just listen to their body and don’t think it’s nothing, because it could be something.”

The US Preventive Services task force recommends adults 45 to 75 get screened for colon cancer. Colonoscopies remain the gold standard for colon cancer screening, but you can also use at home tests such as Cologuard to detect signs of colon cancer. These tests are usually less expensive than a colonoscopy and don’t require the prep work. The good news, Americans are more likely to survive a cancer diagnosis compared with people a generation ago. The five-year survival rate improved from 49 percent in the 70’s to 68 percent today.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; William Drucker, Editor, Kirk Manson, Videographer.



REPORT #3156

BACKGROUND: In the United States, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are slightly more likely to develop colon cancer than women. Colon cancer typically affects people aged 50 and older, however, over the past 15 years, the number of people aged 20 to 49 diagnosed has increased by about 1.5% each year. Colon cancer can develop from polyps in the innermost lining of the colon. The polyps, created by cells that release mucus and other fluids, mutate or change and can take about 10 years for cancer to form. If colon cancer is not detected or treated, the cancer works its way through a layer of tissue, muscle, and the outer layer of the colon. It can also spread to other parts of the body via the lymph nodes or blood vessels.


SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES: Even though medical researchers aren’t sure why some people develop precancerous colon polyps that become colon cancer, they have identified certain risk factors. They include certain medical conditions, including inherited conditions, and lifestyle choices like smoking, excessive alcohol use, obesity, eating a lot of red meat and processed meat, and not exercising. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll develop colon cancer; it just means you have increased risk. Common symptoms of colon cancer include blood on or in your stool; persistent changes in your bowel habits; abdominal (belly) pain; bloated stomach; unexplained weight loss; vomiting; fatigue and feeling short of breath.


NEW STUDY IDENTIFIES PROMISING TREATMENT: New research from a phase 3 clinical trial found a rare genetic tumor mutation called KRAS G12C experienced superior survival rates compared to standard of care for metastatic colorectal cancer patients when offered a combination treatment of KRAS inhibitor sotorasib and monoclonal antibody panitumumab. “This is the first Phase 3 clinical trial to show a benefit over standard of care in patients with the KRAS G12C mutation whose cancer progressed after receiving standard chemotherapy. The efficacy results from our study are promising in this population with unmet needs and should set a new standard of care,” said Marwan Fakih, MD, professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research and the Judy & Bernard Briskin Distinguished Director of Clinical Research at City of Hope. The higher dose regimen was particularly effective, more than doubling the median time to progression compared to standard of care, as well as resulting in a far larger number of patients with major disease regression.


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Caroline Auger

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