“I don’t have to worry about that until I’m old,” “That is more of a man’s disease,” “It will go away on its own.” When it comes to colorectal cancer, these beliefs are common and yet show a lack of understanding of the disease and its risks.
Colorectal cancer is widely thought of as an old person’s disease, but research is showing an increase in the disease in people under 50 years old. A study by the American Cancer Society found that adults born in 1990 have two to four times the risk of getting colorectal cancer than people born in 1950 had when they were younger than age 50. The results were the same for both men and women (Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the third most common in women). The study also showed that the increase seems to be confined to white Americans. Meanwhile, the incidents of death from colorectal cancer in African Americans has decreased over the past 45 years.
Don’t Ignore It
The reason for the rise of death rates and onset of colorectal cancer in young people is still unclear. However, there are important signs that can help you catch the disease early. Symptoms that can indicate a problem are things like prolonged changes in bowel habits—constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping or bloating, thinner than normal stools, and rectal bleeding or bloody stool. There are other symptoms that affect the rest of the body like anemia, unexplained weight loss, nausea, or extreme fatigue. Any of these symptoms on their own can be worrisome, but when the systemic symptoms are coupled with one or more of the other localized symptoms, it warrants a visit to your doctor.
Another important risk factor that shouldn’t be ignored is family history. If you have an immediate relative like a brother, sister, or parent with colorectal cancer, it is considered a strong family history and greatly increases your risk of getting colorectal cancer. While not as high a risk, distant relatives with colorectal cancer also increases your chance. Having multiple family members presents a greater risk as well, and the more family members with colorectal cancer, the greater your risk. This is why it is important to discuss your family history with your doctor so that preventive steps can be taken if necessary. Your doctor may want to do genetic testing or begin routine screenings earlier. Family history will also be important in evaluating any symptoms you may experience.
If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or have experienced symptoms, make an appointment with Concorde Gastro today. Considering the increase in colorectal cancer rates among young people, it is important that you not wait if you have a concern. Early detection is key when it comes to cancer, and colorectal cancer is no exception.