A recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that new cases of colon and rectal cancer are appearing in a larger number of young adults than ever before. Between the mid-1980s and 2013, colon cancer rates increased about 1 to 2 percent every year for people in their 20s and 30s.
The study did not determine a reason for the increase. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S., but many colon cancers can be prevented with regular testing. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to learn the facts about colon cancer and schedule a colonoscopy. It could save your life.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, a colonoscopy with polypectomy (removal of polyps) reduces the risk of colon cancer by 90 percent. More than 50,000 people are expected to die of colorectal cancer this year. And, a screening colonoscopy could save more than half of those lives.
NCH Medical Group Gastroenterologist Benjamin VanCura, M.D., recommends people schedule their first screening colonoscopy at age 50. There are exceptions; those who have a family history of colorectal cancer or personal history of inflammatory bowel disease may opt for a colonoscopy at a younger age.
Paying attention to your colon health also is recommended, says NCH Medical Group Gastroenterologist Ami Behara, M.D. It’s as easy as engaging in physical activity, watching your diet and drinking plenty of water.
Learn more about NCH’s colorectal program and available treatments.