Colon Cancer Often Misdiagnosed in Young People Delaying Treatment

A new report, published by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance found that 82 percent of early-onset, meaning before age 50, colorectal cancers are misdiagnosed. This statistic highlights why it is more important than ever to know your family history or be proactive when symptoms appear.

In the new report, the Colon Cancer Alliance surveyed 992 early-onset colorectal cancer survivors to bring greater awareness to the alarming trend.

Survey Statistics

  • 82% of respondents were initially misdiagnosed before receiving a colorectal cancer diagnosis
  • 58% of respondents were diagnosed between the ages of 40-49 years old
  • 73% of respondents were diagnosed when their cancer had already reached stage III or IV
  • 20% waited 12 months before seeking care for their symptoms
  • 39% were misdiagnosed with hemorrhoids
  • 62% of respondents had no family history of colorectal cancer
  • 10% of respondents had a family history of colorectal cancer but were unaware

The top three symptoms cited for seeking care from a healthcare provider, include:

  • 47% reported blood in their stool
  • 44% experienced a change in bowel movements—diarrhea or constipation
  • 44% reported persistent abdominal cramping
  • 15% were diagnosed following an emergency room order for an emergency colonoscopy

Statistics like these underline the importance of addressing symptoms immediately and getting the opinion of an experienced, fellowship-trained gastroenterologist. Researchers speculate that general practitioners and young patients alike may not be acutely aware of just how many young adults are being affected by colorectal cancer and writing off mild indications as something else.

Colon Cancer Isn’t Just an Old Person’s Disease

In February 2017, headlines riveted the healthcare community when the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published data finding that colorectal cancer rates are on the rise among generation X and millennials. The study found that individuals born in 1990 had two times the risk of early colon cancer  and four times the risk of early rectal cancer as someone born in 1950, a risk that will be carried forward, according to the lead researcher of the study, Rebecca Siegel. If trends continue, by 2030, 1 in 10 colon cancers and nearly 1 in 4 rectal cancers will be diagnosed in people younger than the traditional screening age of 50 years old.

In the July 2017 publication of The American Journal of Gastroenterology, the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force issued a proposal for physicians and patients with new recommendations  for combating the rise in colorectal cancer among younger adults.

Until Screening Recommendations Change, You Have to Be Your Own Advocate

  • Know your family history
  • Don’t ignore symptoms, even minor ones—the most common symptom is no symptoms at all
  • Seek care from a qualified gastroenterologist to assess family history and/or symptoms
  • Get screened for colon cancer

A colonoscopy can be performed during a simple outpatient procedure. At San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Centers , most patients are at the facility for no more than two to three hours. Most patients have fully recovered just a few hours after the procedure and can get back to living life. Plus, you’ll get the highest quality of care, board-certified gastroenterologists, top-rated facilities, and all at affordable rates. Give us a call  or request an appointment  with a San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates gastroenterologist.