Gastroenterology & GI Surgery

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Mar 4, 2019

Never Too Young – Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults

By Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator, @kanaazpereira

The American Cancer Society recently updated its colorectal cancer (colon cancer and rectal cancer) screening guidelines – current recommendations advise that people start regular screening at age 45. This change doesn’t come as a surprise, especially after a disturbing study showed that rates of colorectal cancer  among millennials  is on the rise in the U.S. Mayo Clinic medical oncologist, Dr. Pashtoon Kasi, M.D., talks with Mayo Clinic Radio, about this concerning trend.

Although there is a definite rise in colorectal cancer diagnoses in the younger generation, researchers aren’t sure what’s driving the increase. According to Dr. Kasi, an emerging pattern is the marked increase in rectal cancer and cancers on the left side of the colon; a few studies also show that the cancer tends to be more aggressive in younger people.

Some of the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer in younger adults are

  • Blood in the stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Difference in the shape of the stool
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss

Colonoscopy is the preferred screening method, since it can look at the entire colon and rectum, but there are other less invasive methods, including a stool DNA test like Cologuard – the only FDA-approved test at present.

There is a clear urgency to find more efficient ways to detect colorectal cancer early in young people who, for their part, have to recognize that early detection is critically important to curing cancer.

Watch Mayo Clinic Colorectal Cancer Expert Q&A videos to learn more.

Meet other people talking about colorectal cancer on Mayo Clinic Connect. Join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network...



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