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Raise Awareness

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States.

Rates of early-age onset colorectal cancer have been rising steadily since the mid-1990s. There was a 51% increase in cases of colorectal cancer in people age 20-49 from 1994 to 2012.  

According to a 2015 study by MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers, it is expected that rates of colon cancer will increase by for people ages 20-34 and 27.7% for people ages 35-49 by 2030.

New findings, published recently in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, are based on figures from a U.S. federal cancer registry. There were nearly 104,000 Americans ages 20 to 54 who developed colorectal adenocarcinoma between 2000 and 2016. When it came to colon cancer specifically, people in their 30s showed the steepest increase in late-stage cancers over time, at 49%. Meanwhile, those in their 20s had the sharpest rise in advanced rectal cancer, 133%.

Researchers are still trying to understand why colon cancer is rising among young people. According to  Dr. Robin Mendelsohn, who co-directs Memorial Sloan Kettering's Center for Young Onset Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancer, in New York City, "Some data suggest that obesity and diabetes are playing a role, but that's not the whole story. The majority of our patients are not obese and do not have diabetes."

It's also important to know your family history of colon cancer, including the age at which relatives were diagnosed. People with a strong family history of the disease may be advised to start screening earlier than age 45.

Raise Awareness: Our Causes
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