Colon Cancer Is Affecting Younger People and We Don't Know Why
Photo by JC Gellidon / Unsplash

Colon Cancer Is Affecting Younger People and We Don't Know Why

Overall rates are down, but among those under 55, more advanced forms are appearing more often

When a respected oncologist tells you there's a "worrisome trend," it's time to pay attention. This time, it's Paul Oberstein, a medical oncologist at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center, who took a look at a recent study on colon and rectal cancer and decided it's not good news.

As reported by The Washington Post, the study from The American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer rates seem to be shifting toward younger patients. One in five new cases is from those under 55, which is twice what it was in 1995. Sixty percent are getting advanced forms of these cancers, up from 52 percent less than two decades ago.

It's not clear why that's happening, but testing may have something to do with it; more people are being screened for these types of cancers. One American Cancer Society scientist, a lead author of the report, says the data is "alarming" and that those over 45 should think about getting screened. On it!

The good news, especially if you're older, is that overall rates of colon cancer have gone down 46 percent since 1985, at the disease's peak. And treatment has gotten better; there's been a 57 percent drop in death rates over 50 years, due to screening and other healthy living changes, like fewer people smoking.

But the rise in young people is still a mystery, and it's happening in other countries too, experts say. These types of cancers are the second-most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. Some of the risk factors include eating processed meats, obesity, smoking, and not getting enough exercise.

In your 40s and still on the fence about whether you should get screened? Just do the colonoscopy, it's really not that bad.

More From LEVEL: