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Colorectal cancer increasing in young people

There seems to be a worrying trend in the incidence of colorectal cancer in young people. 

A population-based analysis from England indicates that the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing rapidly in young adults. The findings, which are published in BJS (British Journal of Surgery), suggest that colorectal cancer should no longer be considered a disease of older people.



For the analysis, investigators examined information on adults who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in England between 1974 and 2015. Of the 1,145,639 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed between 1974 and 2015 in adults aged over 20 years, there were 2,594 in 20–29 year olds, 11,406 among 30–39 year olds and 42,134 in 40–49 year olds.

The most sustained increase in incidence rates was seen in adults aged 20–29 years. The magnitude of increases was similar in both sexes and across income levels.

The most pronounced increases in incidence occurred in the southern regions of England.

Another article in BJS notes that young patients need more treatment to achieve similar outcomes to older patients.
The authors of the study suggest that the changes in incidence rates should be used to inform future screening policy, preventative strategies and research agendas, as well as increasing public understanding that younger people need to be aware of the symptoms of colorectal cancer.

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