In the United States, the overall rate of colon cancer is declining however in a study shows that in the last ten years, the rate of colon cancer in people under 50 has increased by more than 11%.
The study also found that the number of colon cancers in people aged 50 and older fell by nearly 3%.
The lead researcher, Dr. Elie Sutton is a research fellow at Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City and explained that health care providers should more proactively monitor younger patients for any symptoms.
Dr. Elie Sutton continued to say that there is no clear explanation as to why colon cancer is increasing in younger patients. There is speculation that it is a result of an increase in inflammatory bowel disease or a change in diet.
Researchers in the study found that individuals under 50, diagnosed with colon cancer more frequently were diagnosed when the cancer had advanced to a later stage.
According to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer is the third most common cancer. An estimated 134,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will arise in 2016. Colorectal falls just behind lung cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths.
Researchers of this study reviewed more than 1 million colorectal cancer cases ranging from 2004 to 2013. This data was listed in the National Cancer Database.
The majority of cases of colorectal cancer occur after the age of 50 however the study found that the number of cases of people under 50 is rising about 1%.
This study mirrored the results of a study from January 25th that found that one in seven colon cancer patients is under 50.
Although younger patients are more likely to have an advanced stage cancer, they live slightly longer and with a smaller cancer recurrence because of the aggressive treatment they receive.
Rebecca Siegel, the Strategic Director of Surveillance Information Services at the American Cancer Society explained that although there is no definitive reason as to why the increasing rate at a young age is occurring, there are assumptions that it has to do with obesity and changing patterns in diet.
These studies are changing the screening guidelines to better prepare and diagnose patients.
Certain individuals under the age of 50 should undergo a colonoscopy, specifically those with a family history of colon cancer and with family members with benign tumors in the colon.