In the United States, doctors recommend screenings for colon and rectal cancer starting around age 50. However, according to new case studies, screenings should begin much earlier. New findings show that adults in the United States are dying from colon and rectal cancers at an increasing rate about age 50.
The new study included data on colon and rectal cancer diagnoses and death reports for adults ages 20 to 54 in the United States from 1970 to 2014. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that colon and rectal cancer mortality rates among 20- to 54-year-olds declined overall from 1970 to 2004, but then increased by 1% annually from 2004 to 2014. In 2014, the total colorectal mortality rate in that age group was 4.3 people per 100,000.
“It’s important to mention that still the risk for colorectal cancer is low in people under 55. We don’t want to be alarmists. The risk is low,” Siegel said, the study’s lead author. In addition, between 2004 and 2014, there were many advances in surgical and chemotherapy treatments for colorectal cancer. All in all, the study “tells us that we need to get messages out for people when they turn 50, they need to call and schedule their colorectal cancer screening, because increasing death rates for people who should be screened is very concerning,” said Siegel.
What you should be doing
. Screenings can be performed using a fecal blood test, a stool DNA test, a sigmoidoscopy, a virtual colonoscopy, or the standard colonoscopy, according to the National Cancer Institute
. The Affordable Care Act required coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests
, but patients still should check with their health insurance providers to determine coverage for colorectal cancer screening, which can range in cost.
. The study’s findings are a reminder for more adults to get screened and to pay attention to potential colorectal cancer symptoms
, which include diarrhea, blood in the stool, cramping or bloating.
Take preventative measures
. To reduce your risk of colon and rectal cancers
, Siegel recommended maintaining a healthy body weight, staying physically active, avoiding drinking alcohol excessively, and avoiding smoking.