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Colorectal Cancer: A new Threat to Young Adults

Colorectal Cancer: A new Threat to Young Adults
Image: Alpine Surgical Practice

Colorectal cancer is now the third leading cause of cancer death among young adults who are less than 50 years of age

March is being observed as the month of Colorectal Cancer awareness

Dr. Mohammad Masood

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 153,020 people in the States received a diagnosis of colon or rectal cancer in 2023. Approximately 52,550 died of it. Colorectal cancer awareness is important because many cases of colon or rectum are preventable. Screening by colonoscopy can prevent this cancer because precancerous polyps can be removed at the same time during the procedure. Furthermore, colonoscopy can also detect cancer at early stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AARC) Progress Report 2023 reported on the rise in early-onset colorectal cancer defined as diagnosis before age 50. The incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) has increased about 2 percent per year in recent years.

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. However, each person’s risk might be higher or lower than this, depending on the risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Numerous factors are being added to the rise of CRC in the under-50 age group. Genetics also plays a role. Diet could be a factor due to the amount of processed food consumed and low-fiber, high-fat meals. However, chemicals in the environment may also be a cause. Obesity, physical inactivity, and alcohol intake have been linked to an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Studies suggest that first-degree relative with colorectal cancer increases an individual risk by two to four times. Another emergency risk factor associated with early onset colorectal cancer is the role of altered gut microbiome compared with healthy persons. The role of antibiotic exposure in childhood and its effect on altering the microbiome is also an emergency risk factor for young-onset CRC.

images (2)Colorectal cancer is now the third leading cause of cancer death among young adults who are less than 50 years of age. This incident is even more profound among young adults in Asia compared to patients in the Western hemisphere. The data from the surveillance, epidemiology, and results database from 1974 to 2013 evidence the increasing rise of CRC in young adults. The annual increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer was 2.4% among adults aged 20 to 39 years and 1.3% among those 40 to 49 years. In the four years between 2012 and 2016, there was a 3.3% increase. Furthermore, it is estimated that by 2030, roughly one in 10 colon cancers and 1 in 4 Rectal cancers will be diagnosed in patients who are under the age of 50.

The Varying symptoms of colorectal cancer are changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, which may be fresh or melanotic, cramps or abdominal pain, weightless fatigue anemia, and constipation.

March is the month of colorectal cancer awareness globally, where it focuses on early diagnosis, screening, and proper treatment strategies. American College of Gastroenterology has recommended starting screening colonoscopy from age 45.

Regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. If you are 45 to 75 years old, get screened for CRC regularly, 10 years interval. If you are younger than 45 years and think of being at high risk of CRC or if you are older than 75 years, then talk to a Gastroenterologist about screening.

images (4)The public and patients may be educated to be aware of the risks, consequences, and preventive methods. Physicians from the American College of Gastroenterology recommend colonoscopy as the preferred Colorectal cancer preventive test.

According to American College of Gastroenterology experts, colorectal cancer screening is for healthy people. If we find a polyp, we remove it and prevent it from becoming Colorectal Cancer.

If there is no one in the family having CRC, then don’t be the first, so get screening Colonoscopy. Roughly 5 in 100 people are destined to get colorectal cancer in their lifetime, even with no family history.

Colon cancer is an equal-opportunity disease. Women have the same risk as men. The single biggest modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer is failure to get screened.

The Outreach to the Community is through open houses or educational seminars, awareness about CRC disease, requests to the media (social, electronic, print), patient success stories, and local radio station programs.

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Dr Masood Sindh CourierDr. Mohammad Masood is Assistant Professor Gastroenterology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center JPMC Karachi




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