Tag Archive for: early onset colon cancer

Why Are Colon Cancer Cases in Young People on the Rise?

Why Are Colon Cancer Cases in Young People on the Rise? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Why are colon cancer cases rising among young people? Dr. Suneel Kamath delves into the risk factors, early symptoms of colon cancer, and the importance of consulting with your doctor.

Dr. Suneel Kamath is a medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Kamath.

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Related Resources:

Research Advances in Colon Cancer Screening and Detection

Research Advances in Colon Cancer Screening and Detection

What Are Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines?

What Are Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines?

What Is the Role of Genetic Testing in Colon Cancer Care?

What Is the Role of Genetic Testing in Colon Cancer Care?


Transcript: 

Katherine:

Well, colon cancer cases in young people are on the rise. Do we know why this is happening?  

Dr. Kamath:  

Yeah, honestly, we really don’t to this point. We have a lot of hypotheses that we’re investigating to get to the bottom of that but it does seem like some of the usual risk factors for developing colon cancer later in life are still true. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, a diet that’s high in red meat, processed foods. I do think to some extent the fact that we’re doing these things earlier and earlier in our lives. I think we’re seeing that the rates of obesity and overweight are not just increasing but they’re also occurring in people’s teenage years and in their 20s and 30s.  

It’s a time dependent process. I do think some people being at a higher than healthy body weight and leading a sedentary lifestyle starting at age 10 may lead to a cancer by age 30 or 40. I do think that’s part of it. But I do think there’s probably some other undescribed factor. We know plenty of people who come in who are runners and healthy, and honestly they’re healthier than I am to be honest with you and they still develop this for no reason. I am sure there’s some other exposure that we still need to identify.  

Katherine:  

What symptoms should young people be paying attention to?  

Dr. Kamath:  

It’s a great question. Fortunately, with early onset colorectal cancer, it’s much more likely to be on the left side of the colon, or closer to the exit, if you will. 

The good thing about that is the symptoms of it can be a little bit easier to detect. A lot of people describe to me that they have more blood in their stool. They found that they were straining harder than normal or having had a thinner stool caliber. I would also emphasize that these are often symptoms that go on for weeks and months at a time. All of us might eat the wrong thing for a day or two and get some stomach issues here or there so I don’t want people to overreact to every little symptom.  

Certainly, if you’re having constipation that’s going on for several weeks in a row, that’s often not going to be a benign thing. If you have that type of symptom and it’s persistent, definitely talk to your doctor and get it checked out.