Although colon cancer incidence rates are decreasing in the above-50 age group due to screening and early detection, a new study shows that the number of cases in patients under 50 are on the rise, and will continue to increase.
The study, published in JAMA Surgery last week, centers on a comprehensive analysis of U.S. National Cancer Institute data from 1975 through 2010. Researchers found that the overall colon cancer rate for Americans fell by about 1 percent each year during that time.
Age was a determinant factor in these results. Colon cancer incidence rates fell by around 1 percent in people aged 50 and older each year, but rates rose by 2 percent per year among people aged 20-34 and by about half a percent annually among those 35-49.
The researchers also predict that by 2020, colon cancer rates are expected to spike about 38 percent among people aged 20 to 34. By 2030 incidence rates increase by up to 90%. In contrast, by 2020 and 2030 colon cancer rates are expected to fall by about 23 percent and 41 percent, respectively, among people older than 50.
The causes behind this surge in young-onset colon cancer remain unclear. The stark distinction between colon cancer incidence rates in each age group highlight the need to investigate potential lifestyle, dietary, and other behavior factors within the younger-age population.
Some experts suggest that the problem may lie in the fact that there are no standardized screening recommendations or specified risk factors for patients under 50.
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