Colorectal Cancer — A Concern for Those Under Age 50

March 14, 2024
The passing of actor Chadwick Boseman — renowned for his role as the Black Panther — from colon cancer at the age of 43 has brought heightened awareness to the risk of this disease among individuals under 50.
There's a common misconception that colorectal cancer primarily affects older adults. However, the reality is that while rates have decreased among those over 50, they've surged for those under 50.
At the start of 2023, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that in 2019, 20% of colorectal cancer diagnoses were in individuals under 55 — a figure that has doubled since 1995. Additionally, the incidence of advanced cases in this age group has risen by 3% annually, with a corresponding 1% yearly increase in the death rate since 2004.
This trend isn't exclusive to the United States; evidence suggests rising incidence rates among younger populations in European, Asian, Australian, and New Zealand countries since 1995.
What's causing more young people to develop colorectal cancer? There's no single clear reason, but known risk factors include:
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet; processed foods
  • Environmental factors like chemical exposure
  • Genetics, though only 10-20% of cases in young patients are attributable to genetics
  • History of chronic diseases causing intestinal inflammation, such as Crohn's disease, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
What symptoms should you watch for? Be vigilant for:
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Dark or black stool
  • Changes in stool appearance, like narrow or pellet-shaped stools
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
Preventing colorectal cancer involves lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women, regular exercise, weight management, and a diet rich in fiber.
Individuals aged 45 and over should undergo annual health examinations, including colonoscopies, to screen for abnormalities like polyps. This proactive measure has contributed to the decline in colorectal cancer incidence among those over 50.
The Digestive Disease (GI) Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital boasts expert specialists who diagnose and treat a wide array of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the center ensures comprehensive care for patients."

For more information please contact:

Related Packages

Related Health Blogs