According to a study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the rate of colorectal cancer diagnoses is dropping among people who are 50 and older, yet increasing among younger adults.
Researchers expect that by 2030, the incidence rate of colorectal cancer in young patients will double among the 20 – 34 age group (an increase of 100 percent), and increase by 46 percent for the 35 – 49 age group.
Previously, it has been thought that the chances of developing colorectal cancer increased dramatically after age 50, as roughly 9 out of 10 individuals diagnosed with colon or rectal cancers were at least 50. However, statistical analysis has shown that there has been an increase in the rate of diagnosis in younger populations. This increase is thought to be caused by a variety of factors. Lead author of the study, Dr. Christina Bailey said there is no clear reason why the incidence of colon and rectal cancers are increasing among a younger demographic, but the study indicates that multiple potential risk factors such as obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise may be causally related.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force currently recommends that individuals who are ages 50 and older get screened for colon cancer by colonoscopy; with a baseline initial study at age 50, and then repeat screenings every year to every ten years depending upon each individual patient’s findings. Other screening tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, should be performed at least once a year.
The referenced study, as well as others conducted throughout the nation, indicate that colorectal cancer screening should no longer be reserved for the over-50 population.
Aside from healthcare professionals’ responsibility to perform, recommend to, and refer patients for colorectal cancer screenings, such healthcare providers must, as mandated by the standards of care, be cognizant of the signs and symptoms associated with this disease process, and recognize the significance of a patient’s presentation. Weight loss, bloody stools, and changes in bowel movements in any age patient must be heeded and properly/timely evaluated to establish the cause or causes of such symptomatology. “You have to recognize that the incidence rate is increasing in young patients,” Dr. Bailey told Reuters Health, “and you have to take their complaints seriously.”
It is well accepted within the medical community that earlier diagnosis equates to a better prognosis (survivability), and decreases the need for more profound treatment. In fact, the researchers from Dr. Bailey’s study attribute the drop in new colorectal cancer cases among older adults to increased screenings, early detection, and prophylactic removal/biopsy of suspicious or precancerous lesions and/or growths.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of negligent medical care, such as a cancer misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose in a timely manner, please contact the law firm of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari in New Jersey. Call (973) 635-5400 for a thorough case evaluation at no cost to you. You may be eligible to pursue financial compensation for your various losses and damages.