Should Young People Worry About Colorectal Cancer?

Posted on: 2 August 2022

Although colorectal cancers affect only a small percentage of the population, rates are rising among a surprising demographic: young adults. In fact, one 2018 study found that adults born in 1990 develop colon cancer at double and rectal cancer at quadruple the rates of those born in 1950. The specific reasons for this still aren't clear, but there are steps you can take to understand your risk and catch colorectal cancer before it progresses too far. 

Knowing Your Risk and Family History

A few factors increase the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer at an early age. For example, there appears to be a genetic correlation; you're more likely to test positive for these cancers if a family member already has. Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and poor diet may also play a role. Learn about your family's medical history and be aware of your lifestyle to assess your own risk. 

Watching for Symptoms

It's always important to stay in touch with your body, including bowel health. Monitor changes in your bowel movements or abdominal pain, which can be a sign of any number of health issues. Colorectal cancers may cause symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, rectal bleeding, changes in stool composition, and cramping. If you notice one or more of these problems, schedule a check-up with your doctor to make sure they're nothing serious. 

Reducing Your Risk

The best way to lower your risk of colorectal cancer is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious foods with high fiber content, exercise daily, and avoid smoking or drinking. Losing weight can also help. All of these measures will keep your digestive system running smoothly and minimize your exposure to potential carcinogens. 

Seeking Genetic Testing

If you learn that you have family members with a history of colorectal cancer, your risk of developing it yourself may be higher. Certain genetic markers are now associated with elevated cancer levels. To put your mind at ease either way, you may want to consider genetic screening. Carrying these genes doesn't mean you'll get colorectal cancer, but knowing will allow you to take preventative steps. 

Requesting Colon Cancer Screenings

If you know you're at higher risk for colorectal cancer, catching it early is essential for successful and minimally invasive treatment. Talk to your doctor today about scheduling a regular colorectal cancer screening, even if you're below the recommended age. The medical field is still studying rising cancer rates in young adults, and standards are slow to change. When it comes to your health, don't hesitate to be your own advocate and protect your long-term wellbeing.

For more information on colorectal cancer, contact a professional near you.