A growing number of young adults are being diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, according to a new peer-reviewed study.
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine examined data from 100,000 people with adenocarcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer that's more likely to be caught in later stages. Some of the reasons for a rise in young adults could be linked to obesity, diet and environmental factors, according to the study.
The study revealed that young patients ages 20 to 29 have seen the highest spike in rates of diagnosed colon cancer cases. That age group is also more likely to have a distant, less treatable form of cancer when officially diagnosed.
That revelation is another reason doctors say screenings are essential.
New guidelines recommend early screening:Colorectal cancer may kill thousands of patients under 50 this year
"Studying cases of adenocarcinoma alone is important because those are the ones we're trying to prevent with screening and risk factor identification," said study author Dr. Jordan Karlitz, chief of gastroenterology at Denver Health Medical Center, according to ABC News.
Colorectal cancer, which includes colon and rectal cancer, has been on the rise, according to data from the American Cancer Society, which established new guidelines in 2020 and predicted 52,580 deaths in 2022. Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in May of last year that doctors have seen an increase in colorectal cancer for people under 50 since the mid-1990s.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently changed the screening guidelines for colon cancer from age 50 to age 45.
"If you're 45 years old, get screened on time – do not wait," Karlitz said. "If you are under 45, report concerning symptoms to your provider and report your family history to your provider – it can be lifesaving and impactful to prevent the development of colorectal cancer or at least advanced disease."
When examining the subgroups in the study, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic participants saw the highest increases.
Common colon cancer symptoms to look out for include rectal bleeding, persistent abdominal pain or fullness, and unexplained weakness. Family history is a common indicator, significantly raising the risk of developing colon cancer.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Colon cancer found in more younger adults. 'Get screened,' doctor says