May 15, 2024

Colorectal cancer rates declining in older adults, rising among children, teens

Editor's Note

A new study reveals a worrying trend: While colorectal cancer rates have been decreasing in older adults, they are significantly rising among children and teens, Healthline May 9 reports. The findings from this study will be presented on Monday, May 20, at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington DC.

The greatest increase is being seen in children aged 10 to 14, with such cases surging by 500%. Although the overall numbers remain low, the trend is alarming. Experts urge the importance of recognizing early signs, including changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. Factors driving this increase remain unclear, with potential influences including lifestyle changes, obesity, and environmental factors.

Also according to the American Cancer Society, “In people younger than 55 years of age, rates [of colorectal cancer] have been increasing by 1% to 2% a year since the mid-1990s.” Meanwhile, rates have slowly decreased in older adults since the 1980s. “Between 2011 and 2019, cases dropped by around 1% each year,” noted the article.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in men and the fourth in women, according to the American Cancer Society. In 2024, experts predict there will be 106,590 new cases of colon cancer and 46,220 cases of rectal cancer in the US. These findings highlight the need for improved prevention, dietary changes, and early detection strategies.

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