I’m too young to worry about colon cancer! In the past, most doctors would have agreed with you because they seldom came across cases of colon cancer in patients under age 50. But an alarming change in colon cancer demographics has been occurring over the last decade and researchers are warning that it is only going to get worse.
Cases of colorectal cancers in patients under 50 has increased at least 17% over the last decade. In a study published in JAMA, some researchers estimate that colon cancer incidence in patients ages 20-34 will rise 90% in the next 15 years. Let that number sink in for a minute. Because of the near certainty of this trend, some doctors are pushing to have the screening age drop from 50 to 30 years of age.
If you are under 50 and are having symptoms of colorectal cancer, insist on a screening. If your doctor doesn’t think you need one - go directly to a gastroenterologist and make an appointment. If you have a strong family history ask if you should be screened for Lynch Syndrome - a genetic condition that makes you susceptible to developing cancers.
Assess your risk:
parent, sibling, or child with colorectal cancers
multiple generations with cancers, particularly colon, endometrium, small intestine, ureter or renal pelvis
change in bowel habits that last more than a few days, particularly a narrowing of the stool
blood in the stool, a sudden dark stool may also indicate blood
unexplained weight loss
abdominal pain and cramping
Remember, insurance guidelines are only generalities and you are never too young for colon cancer. GI Associates in Jackson, Mississippi is an open access clinic - meaning you do not need a referral from your primary care physician to request an appointment. If you are concerned about your health and would like to be screened, call and discuss your symptoms with one of our caring gastroenterologists.