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Colon cancer on the rise for young men and women

Spectrum Health
Posted at 6:47 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 06:47:40-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Colon cancer is on the rise in young people. Research studies are showing those born in 1990 are twice as likely to get diagnosed with colon cancer than someone born in 1950 and four times as likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Colon cancer screening typically takes place at age 45 or 50, but young patients may not display symptoms or may write them off. In turn, young patients who are diagnosed are often found presenting in later stages, according to doctors. While the mortality rate for older patients diagnosed with the disease is declining, mortality rates for young people are increasing.

Dr. Randall Meisner, gastroenterologist with Spectrum Health, says he's seen the trend first hand in his office here in West Michigan.

"Colon cancer screening does not begin when you meet your physician at your 50-year-old well visit," said Dr. Meisner. "It begins when you are likely in your 20s or 30s, just so that we can catch that patient population that may be at higher risk."

Factors such as family history, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use could make a patient more high risk.

Though doctors say you should look for symptoms like bloating, bowel changes, and, most importantly, rectal bleeding. If you have those symptoms, it's recommended that you go to the doctor for screening.

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