2 doctors smiling

As Colon Cancer Awareness month begins, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable is celebrating the impact and successes of the 80% by 2018 Initiative to routinely screen 80% of adults 50 and older by 2018. While measuring the progress for this preventable disease, American Cancer Society researchers were concerned to discover new cases of colon and rectal cancer are actually increasing among young and middle-aged adults in the United States.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on February 28, 2017, the study took age into account and determined individuals born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer compared to those born in 1950.

Family History Impacts Colorectal Cancer Screening

Current colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommend colon cancer screening for average-risk individuals starting at age 50.  Those with a family history of colon cancer, polyps or other bowel conditions should discuss the appropriate age for beginning a screening plan with their healthcare provider.

Discussing any health concerns with a provider and having a documented family medical history are key elements for early diagnosis and treatment of many diseases including colorectal cancer.  Common symptoms such as fatigue, irregular bowel movements, cramping and unintended weight loss are frequently dismissed as the result of everyday stress.  Ignoring symptoms and delaying care could become life-threatening.

Lifestyle Choices Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk

Increasing trends around unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and obesity must also be considered in relation to the increased colorectal cancer diagnosis in younger adults.  Lifestyle choices play a role in overall health and can lower the risk for colorectal cancer and many other chronic conditions.

The Great Plains Quality Innovation Network provides technical assistance and support for organizations interested in increasing colorectal cancer screening rates.  For more information, check out the cancer prevention initiative and reach out to the appropriate local contact.