Skip to main content

Mansfield Magazine

When Age Matters. Colorectal Cancer Under Age 50 on the Rise

Mar 19, 2018 04:05PM ● By Lisa Drake
By Angel Biasatti
Director of Community and Public Relations, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Colorectal cancer cases in the U.S are increasing among younger adults, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute study that found nearly one-third of today's colorectal cancer patients are younger than 55. Such results have researchers questioning, should colorectal cancer screenings start sooner?

The study, published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that during the late 1970s and early '80s, colon cancer incidents declined among those 50 or younger, and increased among those older than 50. Then, from the mid-1980s through 2013, these rates declined in adults ages 55 and older, while they increased by 2.4 percent among adults’ ages 20 to 29 and by 1 percent in adults ages 30 to 39. The American Cancer Society recommends that regular colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 50.

If a parent or sibling has battled colorectal cancer, most studies recommend beginning earlier, at age 40.



Are You at Risk?

“Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum,” says Muhammad Memon, M.D., a gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center - Mansfield, TX. “Most colorectal cancers originate as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. That growth is called a polyp that can turn into cancer over time.”

How Do You Protect Yourself?

Screenings help locate and remove polyps before any potential cancer has a chance to grow.

He continued, a person has a higher chance of developing colorectal cancer if you:

·         Are overweight or obese

·         Don't exercise

·         Consume a diet high in processed meats

·         Smoke

·         Drink alcohol excessively

·         Have a personal history of colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease

·         Have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps

·         Have type 2 diabetes

Talk with your doctor if you think an early colorectal cancer screening may be right for you.

“While colorectal cancer seldom has symptoms, persistent rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or severe constipation can signal that there is a problem. It may be hard to know if you have colorectal cancer, as symptoms don't always appear,” says Dr. Memon.

If symptoms occur you might notice:

·         A change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days

·         An urge to have a bowel movement that doesn't go away after having one

·         Bright red rectal bleeding

·         Blood in the stool

·         Cramping or abdominal pain

·         Unintended weight loss

·         Weakness and fatigue

“Of course, there is no surefire way to prevent colorectal cancer, but there are some things you can do to lessen your likelihood of developing it,” Dr. Memon says. “Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and avoid red and processed meats. Maintaining a trim midsection can help, too, as can quitting smoking.”

A little attention to your health goes a long way. Getting regular screening colonoscopies; paying attention to your health; and recognizing the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with colorectal cancer can help individuals take steps to detect colon and rectal cancer at an early stage when the chance of a cure is higher.

To take a free, online colon cancer risk assessment, click here.




Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.



Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Mansfield Magazine's free newsletter to get regular updates

Embed this content on your website