Colorectal Cancer is Expected to be the Deadliest Cancer among Young Adults by 2030
Alliance Urges Gen X, Y and Z to Know the Risk Factors, Screening Options and Symptoms
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 1, 2023) — New data estimates 153,020 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 52,550 will die from it this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women combined, and the disease is on the rise in younger generations. It has become the deadliest cancer among men under 50, and researchers predict it will become the leading cause of cancer death in men and women ages 20-49 within the next decade. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance (Alliance), the nonprofit leader in the battle to end colorectal cancer, is on a mission to stop the nation from reaching this grim milestone.
During March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Alliance is encouraging all generations to visit getscreened.org and learn about risk factors, screening options and signs that could make a difference between life and death. One in five colorectal cancer patients is between ages 20-54, putting young adults at risk for colorectal cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the rate of colorectal cancer in adults younger than 50 years of age has doubled since the 1990s, but the reason why is unclear.
“Knowing your family history and risk factors is critical for adults younger than 45,” says Cedrek McFadden, MD, a colorectal surgeon. “For those 45 and older, screening is essential. Colorectal cancer has a greater than 90% survival rate when caught early, yet one-third of eligible adults are not getting checked.”
To help prevent colorectal cancer or catch it early, when it’s most treatable, the Alliance recommends following these tips:
Know the Risk Factors & Practice Prevention
More than half (55%) of colorectal cancers in the U.S. are associated with lifestyle risk factors that can be changed, including lack of exercise, excess weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and eating a diet high in red or processed meat and low in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain fiber, and calcium. Family history of colorectal cancer, certain inherited genetic syndromes like Lynch syndrome, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and type 2 diabetes are also risk factors.
Watch for Symptoms & Take Action
Colorectal cancer can develop silently, so there may be no symptoms until it has advanced to later, and more deadly, stages. That’s why it’s critical to get screened for this disease. The faster the symptoms are recognized, the better the chances of treatment. Symptoms to look for include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, abdominal discomfort, weakness and/or fatigue and unexplained weight loss. People experiencing these symptoms should speak with a healthcare provider immediately.
Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths called polyps. Screening can also detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually more successful. People at average risk should start screening at age 45, and those at higher risk may need to get checked earlier. There are many options for screening including at-home tests and colonoscopies, which help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer death. Discuss when and how to begin colorectal cancer screening with a doctor. The Alliance offers a free screening recommendation based on personal risk at quiz.getscreened.org.
“Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., but it is preventable,” says Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. “The Alliance is determined to educate Americans about risk factors and screening options, and to navigate them through the screening process, to end this disease in our lifetime.”
To help spread education and awareness, the Alliance encourages everyone to share about #ColorectalCancerAwarenessMonth on social media, and join its largest 5K fundraiser, Coast to Coast ScopeItOut™, on March 26. Americans can participate in the virtual event from anywhere across the nation, or they can join the live event in Washington, D.C.
About the Colorectal Cancer Alliance
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is a national nonprofit committed to ending colorectal cancer. Working with our nation of passionate allies, we diligently support the needs of patients and families, caregivers, and survivors; eagerly raise awareness of preventive screening; and continually strive to fund critical research. As allies in the struggle, we are fiercely determined to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. For more information, visit ccalliance.org.
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