What Can I Do?

So we know the trends, but what can we do? By taking action and taking control, we can help decrease these rising rates of young-onset colon cancer. Here’s how:

  • Educate Yourself and Your Family

    Know the risks associated with colon cancer, and start early.

  • Know Your Risk

    Seek medical attention accordingly. If you’re in the high-risk group or have a family history, you should be getting screened earlier than 50. Stay on top of this and have these conversations with your doctor.

  • Be Your Own Health Advocate

    If something seems off with your body and your doctor isn’t acting on it, be a proactive patient and seek a second opinion. Physician-related delays (e.g., missed symptoms, initial misdiagnosis) have been estimated to occur in 15-50% of young-onset colon cancer cases.*

Primary Care Physicians: What Can You Do?

Primary care physicians (PCPs) have an important opportunity to improve detection of colon cancer in younger populations. Here’s how:

  • Individualized Colon Cancer Risk Assessments

    They’re essential in all adults, regardless of age! This paves the way for earlier targeted screenings, preventive surgeries and risk modifications and lifestyle changes (e.g., weight reduction, increased exercise, smoking cessation, etc.) AND starts conversations about colon cancer risk factors in average-risk younger populations, decreasing reluctance of screening once age 50 is reached. This is particularly important because colon cancer screening compliance in those 50-59 is considerably lower than those age 60-69 and 70-79.

  • Symptoms

    PCPs may improve time of diagnosis, disease stage at diagnosis and outcome by quickly and thoroughly evaluating symptoms consistent with colon cancer, regardless of age. This evaluation in young adults will help ensure a potential diagnosis is not missed or delayed.

  • Talk It Out

    On average, young-onset patients may delay 6.2 months before seeking care. PCPs may not be able to directly influence a young patient’s decision to seek care when symptoms first appear, but talking about colon cancer risk factors and symptoms, the importance of screening and the value of early detection during routine visits may give a base knowledge and increase comfort levels with the topic, leading young folks to seek care earlier.