SA Living featured Dr. Richard Otero of San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Centers on Thursday, May 11. Dr. Otero’s segment highlighted the rising incidences of colon cancer among Millennials.

Recently, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed findings from a study done over the last four decades. This study showed that individuals born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer  and four times the risk of rectal cancer as someone born in 1950. If this trend continues, scientists are predicting that among people 20-34, incidences of colon cancer will rise by 90% and rectal cancer will increase by 124%.

Scientists don’t yet know why this is happening, although it could relate to the rise in obesity over the same time frame. Family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer also drastically increase your risk.


Typically, doctors recommend that everyone get a screening colonoscopy  every 10 years beginning at the age of 50. These screenings should begin at 45 years of age for African Americans. You should screen every 5 years if you have a family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer.

Know your family’s medical history, and if you’re at increased risk, be sure to get your screening early. You should begin your screenings 10 years before your family member received their diagnosis. For example, if your father received his diagnosis when he was 48, you need to begin screenings at 38.

Be especially vigilant if you have symptoms. Some typical symptoms can be abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, anemia, change in bowel habits, and bloody stool. Don’t ignore symptoms and don’t let your primary care physician ignore them either; push to see a gastroenterologist .

Even if you have a family history of colon cancer, you don’t have to suffer the same fate. A screening colonoscopy is a simple outpatient procedure that can reveal polyps (a precursor to cancer), which your gastroenterologist can then remove on the spot.

Some other tips to stave off colorectal cancer is to stay away from processed meats, get plenty of exercise, and avoid obesity. Diet and exercise is also a formula for overall health and disease prevention.