WACO, TX (FOX 44) – The medical field is picking up on an alarming trend being seen in more young adults.
It’s colon cancer; studies from the American Cancer Society and other sources show 1 out of 10 diagnoses in the U.S. are for people between 20 and 50 years old.
Executive director of the Community Cancer Association in Waco, Terry Hunt says it’s a new trend he’s seeing.
Nine colon cancer patients were on his roll today, six being born in the 70’s and three being born in the 80’s.
“The Texas Cancer Registry is now showing that the expected cancer diagnosis rates for new cases of colon cancer to be about 79 in this county alone in 2022. That number has grown quite a bit,” said Hunt.
At Baylor Scott White, colorectal surgeon Benjamin Gough sees it all too often.
“We had just a trend of seeing way more people being coming in my age,” said Gough. “I’m 32 years old and I’ve seen multiple, multiple people throughout my training and even in practice that are my age coming in with early age, advanced colon cancers.”
The average age for colon cancer diagnosis is between 60-75 years old.
Last year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended age for colonoscopy’s from 50 to 45.
Research is in progress to pinpoint why younger people are being impacted at increasing rates.
Gough says risks factors involve lifestyle choices.
“In your diet, are you eating a lot of red meats? Are you obese? That’s going to increase your risk factor, and the biggest risk factor being your family history,” said Gough. “Do you have any family history of colorectal cancer? Do you have any family history of colon polyps? Even in that puts you at an increased risk.”
Gough recommends to start screening at the age of 40 if you have family history.
He adds to look out for unusual bowel movements, constipation, nuanced diarrhea, and thinner or bloody stools.
For anyone not ready for colonoscopy’s there are less invasive alternatives.
“You can undergo a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is, again, still an invasive procedure, but it’s not as invasive,” said Gough. “You don’t have to do as much of a bowel prep and it’s the same endoscope or a very similar endoscope, but it does not go all the way to the end of your colon.”
For people who are at average risk of colon cancer, another screening alternative is cologuard.
Click here to find more information on the Community Cancer Association.