Colorectal cancer, the third most commonly-diagnosed cancer in the United States (excluding skin cancers) and second leading cause of cancer-related mortality, is increasingly affecting people in their 20s and 30s, recently published research shows.
Researchers including University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center members Swati Patel, MD, an associate professor of gastroenterology in the CU School of Medicine, and Jordan Karlitz, MD, a visiting associate professor of gastroenterology, analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. Comparing data from 2000 to 2002 with data from 2014 to 2016, researchers found steep increases in incidence of distant colorectal cancer, or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Alarmingly, they found that incidence of colon-only, distant adenocarcinoma increased 49% among 30- to 39-year-olds, and that rectal-only, distant stage increases were steepest among those age 20 to 29, at 133%.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so we recently asked Patel about what these research findings mean for younger adults and when they should consider getting screened for colorectal cancer.