Most people think that colorectal cancer (CRC) affects only older adults—but the facts today reveal that more adults who are under the recommended screening age of 45 are being diagnosed than ever before. According to a 2015 study by MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers, by 2030 researchers expect that rates of colon cancer will increase by 90% for people ages 20-34 and 27.7% for people ages 35-49.
All men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer.
Your individual risk factors – such as ethnicity, lifestyle and family history – will determine when you should start getting checked. The American Cancer Society recently recommended that adults without a family history should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45.
People under 45 who are diagnosed with colorectal are more likely to:
- Be diagnosed at a later stage (when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat)
- Have to see two or more doctors before getting diagnosed
- Have a family history of colorectal cancer
It’s important for all adults to learn about colorectal cancer prevention, early detection and the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Are you at risk?
While your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older, it’s important to learn about other risk factors when you’re young, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Eating a diet high in red or processed meats
- Heavy alcohol use
Your health history can also increase your risk, including having personal or family history of:
- Colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps (growths)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Genetic syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
Knowing the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can help you recognize any changes in your body that could be cancer.
Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms (especially at first), but symptoms may include:
- Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
- Stomach pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away
- A change in bowel habits (like diarrhea or constipation) lasting more than a few days
- Unexplained weight loss
Any options to prevent Colon Cancer? At-home Screening with FITs-Fecal Immunochemical Tests
The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable. Because most colorectal cancer cases start as precancerous polyps, getting screened is the most effective way to reduce your risk. At-home screening tests are a reliable alternative for adults who are younger than the current 45 year age cut-off for the annual test that is covered by insurance. FITs detect blood in the stool, a possible symptom of polyps that may be cancerous.
Bottom line is the best test is the one that gets done or gets the process started. Recent meta-analysis of FITs found that these blood tests, which can be done in the privacy of your own home, are associated with increased screening rates. A person will still need a colonoscopy if there is a positive FIT result that indicates the presence of blood in the stool. Always consult a physician who is the only one qualified to diagnose cancer should a colonoscopy result in the removal of polyps to prevent cancer.
(source: prevent cancer.org)