Colon Cancer Crisis in Young Adults


ORLANDO, FL (Ivanhoe Newswire) — March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colon cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in men under 50 and it ranks as the second leading cause for women under 50; breast cancer remains number one. The fact that more young people are being diagnosed with it is cause for concern as a decade ago most colon cancer patients were over 65.

Seeing more and more people in their thirties and forties with advanced-stage colon cancer is not the norm for CU Anschutzs oncologist Wells Messersmith.

“I’ll have days where every patient that I’m seeing is younger than me, and that is shocking. I’m used to seeing 60-year old’s and 70-year old’s and 80-year old’s, with cancer,” says Messermith, MD.

Today, one in 10 people diagnosed with colon cancer are under 50 years old. New studies predict that of all cancers, colon cancer will take the most lives of people under age 50 by 20-30, that’s just six years away.

“We think obesity has something to do with it. Our diet’s highly processed food, red meats, and things, lack of exercise and changes in, in microbiome,” said Messermith, MD.

Studies suggest that lack of access to health care and a lack of awareness among young patients and their doctors about the symptoms of colon and rectal cancer are also to blame.

According to Messermith, MD, “People are being diagnosed at later stages because they think, you know, I just have a little hemorrhoid or something and my abdominal pain is just from, what I’m eating and I’m just not going to worry about it right now.”

Colorectal cancer is preventable with screening, yet more than 20 million Americans who are eligible for a colonoscopy have not been screened.

“If you don’t like the idea of a colonoscopy, ask your doctor about some of the stool tests that can be done, which are noninvasive. Colorectal cancer, if detected early, is completely curable” says Messermith, MD.

Black Americans are almost 20 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer and are 40 percent more likely to die from it than most other groups. Ashkenazi Jews have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world. New guidelines recommend adults ages 45 to 75 get screened for colon cancer every 10 years.


Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor

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