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Know the facts

Colorectal cancer has become a reality for many people younger than age 50, and it’s the only population with a rising incidence rate. In an effort to understand more about the experience of young-onset patients and survivors, the Alliance joined with a group of renowned researchers to create a white paper, outlining data and hard facts around this issue.

Here’s what we found

  • In the US, approximately 10% of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in individuals under age 50.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing in the young-onset population while decreasing in those over 50.
  • Young-onset rectal cancer incidence has increased at nearly twice the rate of young-onset colon cancer.
  • Young-onset colon cancer has a preference for the distal colon (the segment of your colon right before the rectum begins) or rectum and often presents at a later stage.
  • Screening is recommended to start earlier than age 50 in those with a family history of colorectal cancer or advanced adenomas (noncancerous tumors), and in those with hereditary genetic syndromes associated with increased risk. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions increasing risk may also benefit from close follow-up.
  • Individuals under 50 who have symptoms that may be consistent with colorectal cancer need to seek medical attention so the appropriate testing can be done and deserve a prompt and thorough examination.
  • Physician-related delays (e.g., missed symptoms, initial misdiagnosis) have been estimated to occur in 15-50% of young-onset colorectal cancer cases.*
  • Discussions of lowering the screening age for the average-risk population have begun. As it stands, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) feels there is insufficient evidence for lowering the screening age to 40 years in the average-risk population.

*Source: National Cancer Institute State Cancer Profile

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