A new study that looked at a database of 400,000 U.S. patients with colon or rectal cancer found that incidences are increasing in people under 50.
The study, published in JAMA Surgery, determined that cases of colon or rectal cancer have decreased 1 percent a year since the 1980s, yet rose 1.8 percent a year among people between the ages of 20 and 34 whose cancer had spread. By the year 2030, the researchers believe 1 in 10 colon cancers and 1 in 4 rectal cancers will be in people under the age of 50.
The recommended screening age for colon cancer is 50, but the study does not say that the screening age needs to be lowered. "There are always risks and unintended consequences of screening tests," Dr. George J. Chang, the study's senior author, told The New York Times. Doctors do need to "pay attention to symptoms with which our patients present, and work them up by including colorectal cancer as a part of the differential diagnosis."