For years, 50 has been the magic age for adults to have their first colonoscopy. The procedure is recommended to check on the intestinal tract.
Recently, the American Cancer Society has lowered the recommended age to 45. The reason is an increase in younger adults developing colorectal cancer.
At the Goshen Center for Cancer Care they’re bringing awareness to this issue of younger adults developing the disease.
For most young adults, heading to a cancer center isn’t something they think of much, especially colorectal cancer.
A new study shows colorectal patients are getting younger.
“It’s not just people who are in between 40 and 50, they saw the trend in patients who are 20, in between 20 and 30,” says Dr. Irina Sparks, Radiation Oncologist at the Goshen Center for Cancer Care.
So, what symptoms should you be looking out for?
Dr. Sparks at the Goshen Center for Cancer Care says they can be non-specific like fatigue, discomfort, loss of appetite, and unintended weight loss
However, specific colorectal cancer symptoms depend where the cancer is located: in the colon or rectum.
For colon specific symptoms, you may have abdominal cramps and pain, bloating, dark or bloody stool.
“If the cancer is located in the rectum then we would see more patients presenting with rectal bleeding, pain while having bowel movements, changes in bowel habits,” says Dr. Sparks.
Dr. Sparks says the same study that saw the increase in younger colorectal cancer patients may have a reason why this is happening.
“There is a certain year after which we see the increase. So, the suspicion is that there might be something in the environment that might be affecting the rates, but we haven’t found the cause yet.”
So, if want to err on the side of caution Dr. Sparks suggests eating healthy, exercising, and staying away from smoking to take some preventative measures against developing colorectal cancer, especially if you have high risk factors like a family history of cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases.
If you do have higher risk factors for colorectal cancer, Dr. Sparks recommends getting regular screenings earlier than 45.