Colon Cancer

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The Rate of Colon Cancer is Increasing in Those Under 50

Dr. Heather Yeo Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian

Due to improved treatments and more effective screening, the rate of colon cancer has been decreasing in the United States. The one exception to this is for people under the age of 50. While colon cancer at a young age is still very rare, the rate is actually increasing. 

Risk factors such as smoking and obesity are important in the development of colon cancer under age 50, and up to a third of people that develop cancer at a younger age have a genetic condition that puts them at high risk. Unfortunately, these factors don’t completely explain the increase in colon cancer occurrence in this age group, and experts such as Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine, think there may be environmental factors that are also contributing.

What does this mean for you? While these cancers are still so rare that screening for everyone is not effective, it is important for people of all ages to pay attention to changes in their body or bowel habits.  Weight loss, blood in the stool, and changes in bowel movements that last for a prolonged time should prompt a doctor’s visit.

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Dr. Heather Yeo is a medical advisor to SurvivorNet. She is board-certified in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery, and complex general surgical oncology. She is an assistant professor of Surgery and Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medical College and assistant attending surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Read More

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