Colorectal Cancer: Younger Adults Need Screening

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Experts believe that older adults are more likely to be screened for colorectal carcinoma than younger adults. RealPeopleGroup/Getty Images
  • Experts agree that colorectal screening rates are low in people in their 40s, 50s and 50s.
  • They claim that the lower levels are due to the ability of workers to take time off from work, to have insurance coverage and to have access to healthcare.
  • They point out that colorectal cancer can be treated if detected early.

Colorectal cancer screenings save lives, but a new study suggests that middle-aged people in the United States aren’t getting the message.

The rate of colorectal screening is increasing but only 48% of adults 50-54 received their recommended screenings for 2018 as compared with 78% of those 70-75. new study shows.

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common causeIn the United States, approximately one in 20 people will die of cancer. diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime,” Dr. Lynn O’Connor,MPH, chief of colon and rectal surgical at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre (New York) and St. Joseph Hospital Bethpage (New York), told Healthline.

And it’s not just an older person’s problem.

Thirty percent of colorectal cancer diagnoses are in people under the age of 55,” O’Connor said. “The message that screening colonoscopies save lives has clearly penetrated the older age groups, However, this message does not seem to be permeating clearly through the younger age groups.”

In the past few years, the recommended age to screen for colorectal cancer has been lowered from 55- 50 and most recently from 45 to 45. This was based on a recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

But a more robust public health messaging push may be required to get more adults to the doctor’s office for these life-saving checkups.

“The recent deaths of actors Chadwick Boseman, age 43, and Billy Kametz, age 35, have placed a national spotlight on the reality that colon cancer is no longer a disease for those over the age of 50,” Dr. Paul JohnsonHealthline was told by a colon and rectal surgeon at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis, Tennessee.

“The incidence of colorectal cancer is rising among younger people, and scarier still, we, as physicians, don’t exactly know why. As a colorectal surgeon, the most common response I hear from a young patient diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer is they dismissed any potential warning sign as a hemorrhoid,” he said.

While some might assume that barriers to colorectal cancer screening are based mainly on fear of the procedure or of receiving bad news, O’Connor said those are only minor factors.

“Barriers to colorectal screening are complex,” she said. “In the younger age group who are the gainfully employed subset of the population, there may be an inability to take off work, cost, insurance coverage, lack of physician referrals, and attitudes and beliefs.”

This was also confirmed by the study.

The combined colorectal screening rates for recommended age groups was 66%. However, rates for low-income households were 56%. It was just below 40% for those without insurance.

While the study didn’t cover the newly recommended 45 to 50 age range, O’Connor said it was likely there would be similarly lower screening rates in the 50 to 55 age range.

This will require a large-scale effort, she stated.

“Developing and implementing a national screening policy with a standardized screening message that can be conveyed to patients is key,” she said. “Additionally, insurance carriers need to be on the same page with offering screening at age 45 and covering it. The importance of proactive screening initiatives in underserved areas cannot be understated.”

Experts stressed that the most important thing is that everyone should know that colorectal and rectal cancer can be stopped with proper screening.

“I think the most unique facet of colorectal cancer is that in the vast majority of situations, it’s preventable,” said Dr. Steven D. Wexner, the center director of Digestive Diseases & and Surgery Institute and department chair of colorectal surgery at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston.

“In the vast majority of colorectal cancers, the precursor to the cancer is the polyp,” he told Healthline. “If somebody undergoes a screening colonoscopy and a polyp is identified – the polyp is removed. It will not have the opportunity to progress to cancer and, therefore, the patient will never need treatment for cancer.”

“There are not many cancers where we know the sequence from benign to malignant, and we can interrupt that sequence by removing the benign precursor,” Wexner continued. “I believe Benjamin Franklin said something along the lines of an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and it really applies here you go into your screening colonoscopy.”

Johnson agreed.

“Up to 20 percent of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer are found at advanced stages,” he said. “Early detection saves lives.”

Source: Health Line

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