Thursday, March 2, 2023

New report shows more colon cancer cases being found in younger people, Washington Post says

Experts are worried that the proportion of cases of colon cancer has been shifting to those younger than 55 — despite an overall drop in cases of colon and rectal cancer.

According to a story by Teddy Amenabar in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post, the report — from the American Cancer Society (ACS) — also indicates that "more patients are being diagnosed with later stage disease."

The shift toward younger adults, the story says, is shown by the statistics: "One in five new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States occur in people younger than 55 — about  twice the rate in 1995, when 11 percent of cases were in this age group."

Amenabar's piece also says that in "another alarming shift, 60 percent of patients are being diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease, up from 52 percent in the mid-2000s."

No reason for the shift is addressed in the study. But the findings suggest that "steady progress to reduce the incidence of colon cancer through screening during the past few decades is losing momentum," the article continues.

Dr. Paul Oberstein
Quoted, then, is Dr. Paul Oberstein, a  medical oncologist at the NYU Langone Permutter Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study. He says "there is a bit of a worrisome trend. Something is clearly different among the young, the under 50 population, that does suggest…that the number of cancers is going up."

Also quoted is Rebecca Siegel, senior scientific director at the ACS and lead author of the report. "We know rates are increasing in young people," she says in a statement, "but it's alarming to see how rapidly the patient population is shifting longer, despite shrinking numbers in the overall population. The trend toward more advanced disease in people of all ages is also surprising and should motivate everyone 45 and older to get screened."

More information on screenings can be found in Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer, a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, have aimed at male caregivers.

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