Late last month, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study reviewing data spanning more than four decades. The findings have been making headlines ever since. The incidence of colon cancer is on the rise among people under the age of 55. In particular, Gen Xers and Millennials need to be cautious about their gut health.
The study found that people born in 1990 had two times the risk of early colon cancer as someone born in 1950. Even more alarming, they have four times the risk of early rectal cancer as someone born in 1950. We should expect this risk to continue, according to the lead researcher of the study, Rebecca Siegel.
The results are raising alarm in the medical and science community. The American Cancer Society reports that if these trends continue, the incidence rates among people 20 to 34 years of age will increase dramatically. By 2030, incidences will likely rise by 90 percent for colon cancer. They will also rise 124 percent for rectal cancer. Expect rates to grow by 27 percent and 46 percent respectively in people ages 35 to 49.
Researchers and physicians are still uncertain of the cause. Efforts over the last decade have helped combat the high rates of colon cancer for the 50+ population. However, there has been little focus on individuals who have a family history or engage in lifestyle habits that may influence risk.
How do You Know Your Risk?
It starts with a conversation with your family. Though colon health isn’t exactly the best icebreaker, it just might be essential to your health. If a first-degree relative has been diagnosed with colon polyps, your risk increases significantly. In some cases, colon cancer risk is as high as 100 percent.
Family history is just one colon cancer risk profile. Doctors are also pointing out the rise in obesity in which rates increased over the past 40 years. Experts speculate that the modern meal plan, junk foods, may be partly to blame. Diet and exercise are not just vital to looking and feeling your best. It is also a formula for total health and disease prevention.
Also, if you are having symptoms, see a gastroenterologist of course. The symptoms of colon cancer are easily written off. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloody stools, or changes to bowel habits. It’s not uncommon for primary care physicians to dismiss these symptoms in younger people. This makes it important to talk to a gastroenterologist who specializes in digestive diseases and is vastly familiar with the characteristics of colon cancer. If you were previously diagnosed with irritable bowel disease (IBD), your risk is higher than patients without these conditions.
If you do discover that you are at risk, the good news is that early diagnosis and treatment is simple. A colonoscopy can take place during a simple outpatient procedure. At an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), most patients are at the facility for no more than three hours. Most patients are fully recovered a few hours afterward and can get back to living life. Plus at an ASC, you get the highest quality of care. This care includes board certified gastroenterologists and top-rated facilities – all at affordable rates.