"But it's also been assumed that the underlying risk for this disease was also declining".
In fact, three in 10 rectal cancer diagnoses are now in patients younger than 55.
Recently though, studies have reported increasing colorectal cancer incidence in adults under age 50, for whom screening is not generally recommended.
The outlook is so bad that experts say the situation compares with the late 1800s - more than a century ago.
In addition, her research team suggests the age to initiate screening people at average risk may need to be reconsidered. Colon cancer screening kits will be available, as well as educational materials about colonoscopies and screening methods.
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But if these trends continue, it would be wise to do more research to determine what the public health impact would be of starting screening earlier, he added. In Britain, nearly nine out of 10 people with the disease are over 60 years old. The younger group's rate used to be half that of the older group; it now is just 12 percent lower. A high alcohol intake and smoking has also been linked with the disease.
"We are absolutely seeing this", in cancer clinics, not only in the United States, but around the world, said Thomas Weber, a surgical oncologist who specializes in colorectal cancers and is a professor at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.
"But it appears that under the surface, the underlying risk for colorectal cancer is rising, and it is rising pretty quickly among young adults".
The researchers found that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the rates of colon cancer among adults ages 50 and up increased, and the rates among adults under age 50 decreased. They used what's called "age-period-cohort modeling", a tool created to disentangle factors that influence all age groups, such as changes in medical practice and procedures, from factors that vary by generation, such as changes in behavior that may affect health. For example, in adults ages 20 to 29, the rate of colon cancer increased by 2.4 percent each year, and for adults ages 30 to 39, the rate increased by 1 percent each year.
A new study shows that colorectal cancer is increasing in young and middle-aged adults.
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For adults aged 40 to 54, rates increased by 0.5 to one percent annually from the mid-1990s through 2013.
"These numbers are similar to the total number of cervical cancers diagnosed, for which we recommend screening for the 95 million women ages 21 to 65 years", said Siegel.
For starters, he said, "Although relative rates are rising in younger people, the absolute risk is still low in the younger population". And since the 1990s, rectal cancer rates have increased by 2.3 percent each year for adults ages 40 to 54.
In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place in March, The Valley Hospital, in conjunction with the Wyckoff Family YMCA and National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), will be hosting its third annual Colon Cancer Awareness Day Fair. Warning signs include unusual abdominal cramping and changes in bowel movements.
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