- The number of colorectal cancer cases is on the rise among adults under age 50.
- This could be because most young and healthy adults don’t consult a doctor regularly.
- Early detection is important, as well as improving one’s lifestyle.
The prevalence of colorectal cancer has been declining — except for younger people
Women have a 1 in 25 risk for the disease, while men have a 1 in 23 risk.
The number of colorectal cancer cases is declining, however, which can be attributed to increased screenings, says Jerald D. Wishner, MD, FACS.
Routine screening with colonoscopies has helped with early detection of cancerous or precancerous polyps (growths in the lining of the colon).
However, about half of Americans who should be screened are not, leading to about 50,000 deaths each year, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Another study suggested that the colon cancer risk for someone born around 1990 is twice as high (and four times as high for rectal cancer) as for someone born in 1950.
This could be because most young and healthy adults don’t consult a doctor regularly — which could mean that potential concerns are never addressed. And when they do visit, the symptoms could be dismissed since they are not of “risky age.”
This prompted the American Cancer Society to change the recommended age for a colorectal cancer screening to age 45, instead of 50.
Early detection and prompt action can treat colorectal cancer, so routine screening is definitely important.
If you have a first-degree relative diagnosed with colorectal cancer, get screened 10 years earlier than that relative’s age at diagnosis. For instance, if your dad was diagnosed at age 45, get screened at age 35.
Here are some other tips you should follow:
Look out for sudden changes in bowel habits
Watch out for unusual or sudden changes in your stool or bowel habits. Symptoms may include constipation, diarrhea, cramps or pain, mucousy stools, much narrower stools, or blood.
While these may likely be caused by eating spicy food, a lack of fiber in your diet, or hemorrhoids, these may also be indications of colorectal cancer.
Watch out for persistent symptoms
Try to observe your bowel habits for a few weeks or a month to see if any alarming symptoms persist. If they do, consult your doctor. Make sure to also inform them if you have a family history of the disease.
Discuss the possibility of cancer with your doctor
Don’t be afraid to discuss the possibility of cancer with your doctor. Inform them about the rise in colorectal cancers among millennials.
Overcome your fear of getting a colonoscopy
Dr. Wishner assures that most colorectal cancers, when detected early, can be cured with minimally invasive surgery.
The surgery only involves tiny incisions, leading to less pain and shorter recovery.
Most patients wouldn’t need chemotherapy.
“If you do have it you need to find out—and the earlier the better,” Dr. Wishner advises.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Poor diet and a lack of exercise up your risk for colon cancer and other diseases.
Stay active by doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Fill your diet with fiber from fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes. Stick to these healthy habits to help maintain your weight, improve your gut health, and just be healthy overall.
Source: THE Healthy