Study Reveals That Younger People’s Colon Cancer Rates Have Been Climbing For Decades

( — Colorectal cancer rates among people too young for regular screening have been on the rise for decades, according to new research.

According to findings that are expected to be presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference later this month, colorectal cancer rates in all age groups were on the rise and while the overall cases in people under 40 were still low, the rates were increasing.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends adults begin screening for colorectal cancer every ten years once they reach the age of 45. The new research, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, studied the rates of colorectal cancer in people ages 10 to 44.

The study found that diagnoses in children 10–14 increased from 0.1 cases per 100,000 people in 1999 to 0.6 cases by 2020, marking a 500 percent increase.

Among children 15–19, there was a 300 percent increase, while cases among young adults ages 20–24 increased by 185 percent. Those 25 and older saw only a moderate but still significant increase in cases.

Among people ages 40–44, just below the recommended age for routine screening, cases of colorectal cancer increased by 45 percent, from 15 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21 per 100,000 in 2020.

According to data from the American Cancer Society last year, the rates of colorectal cancer have been on the rise in people under the age of 50 for several decades. Meanwhile, the number of colorectal cancer cases and deaths among those over 60 has been on the decline.

The University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Christopher Lieu, who heads up gastrointestinal oncology, said the research reflected “the changing face of colorectal cancer.”

Lieu explained that the rising rates among younger individuals meant that the younger generations today would likely continue to see an increased risk of colorectal cancer throughout their lives.

Described as the “birth cohort effect,” Dr. Lieu explained that a 40-year-old today would have a higher risk of colorectal cancer than someone born in 1950 had at the age of 40.

Lieu recommended that regular screenings be increased for those under the age of 45.

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