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.
Contrary to popular belief, colon cancer is not a disease that only affects older men. We asked top doctors to discredit some common misconceptions surrounding the cancer.
Is colon cancer really becoming more prevalent in people under the age of 50? Can you skip screening if you don’t have any symptoms? Dr. Heather Yeo has the answers – and explains some common misconceptions.
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