Colorectal Cancer vs. Young Adults: The New Leading Cause of Death

Posted By Author on April 17, 2024

March marks the beginning of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and what was once a concern for older generations has now begun to plague those under the age of 50. 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) found that the number of people under the age of 55 who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer has nearly doubled since 1995. 

Today, colorectal cancer tops the list of the leading causes of cancer deaths in young men and is the second leading cause in young women. Keep reading to discover the latest news on colon cancer and how to get ahead in colorectal cancer prevention with the help of Charleston GI.

colon cancer exam, colorectal cancer exam, cancer testing with doctor

Why is the Risk of Colorectal Cancer Increasing for Young Adults?

Although researchers are still working to understand why colon cancer is on the rise for people under 50, gastroenterology specialists are finding that it comes down to a few different risk factors. 

Possible colorectal cancer risk factors include: 

  • Environmental factors, such as chemical exposure 
  • Genetics
  • Diet 
  • Possible antibiotic exposures 
  • Lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol consumption, activity level, etc.) 

While these factors can play a role in developing colorectal cancer, people living a presumably healthy lifestyle may still be at risk. Reach out to local colonoscopy doctors near you to schedule a screening appointment as soon as possible. 

Early Screening Equals Early Prevention and Treatment 

New recommendations from the American Cancer Association (ACS) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that regular screening for colorectal cancer should begin at 45 years old. 

However, given its new predisposition to the younger generation, it’s recommended that individuals with a family history of the disease may need to start screenings at age 40 or earlier. 

There are a variety of different screening tests used by GI doctors in Charleston, SC, and other areas. A colonoscopy is the most common and represents the “gold standard” for diagnosing early signs of colorectal cancer. 

A colonoscopy is a procedure where a thin, long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum to check for polyps in the colon. During the test, your Charleston GI doctors will be able to locate polyps and remove a piece to be tested for cancer. If a polyp turns out to be cancerous, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to fully remove it. 

While a colonoscopy is the standard in colon cancer screening, there are other tests available, including:

  • Stool tests: Stool samples are taken and tested at a lab to detect the presence of blood, altered DNA, or both. 
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy, a GI doctor will insert a short, flexible tube into the rectum. Unlike a colonoscopy, this procedure can only check for polyps inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. 
  • CT Colonography: Also referred to as a virtual colonoscopy, some GI doctors near you will use X-rays and computers to take images of the colon and analyze them for signs of unusual polyps. 

Talk to your doctor to determine which test is right for you. Then, schedule one of these tests or a colonoscopy near you! 

How Do I Know When I Should Schedule a Colonoscopy? 

Now that colorectal cancer has become the leading cause of death among young adults, how do you know when to schedule your first colonoscopy appointment? 

The first and most important step is to listen and trust what your gut–and body–are telling you. 

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include the following: 

  • Change in bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Blood in the stool 
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Fatigue 
  • Unexplained weight loss 

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, head straight to a Charleston gastroenterology clinic for a colonoscopy appointment. 

It’s Never Too Early For Prevention at Charleston GI

While March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to listen to and trust your gut 24/7!

As colorectal cancer continues to make its mark on those young and old, many cases can be prevented with regular screenings. 

Don’t wait to become just another statistic!

We have four convenient Charleston, SC area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads. There’s no referral needed, so schedule your colonoscopy appointment today with Charleston GI by calling us at 843-722-8000 or requesting your appointment online.

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