Roundup: Colorectal Cancer Deaths Rise in Young Adults

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August 11, 2017

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Death rates from colorectal cancer in the U.S. have increased in adults under 55 in the last 10 years, according to a new report. The rise is confined to white men and women and provides more evidence that the increase is not only because of more screening, according to the American Cancer Society report that published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Overall, colorectal mortality rates for white individuals ages 20 to 54 have been increasing 1.4 percent per year since 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, 4.3 per 100,000 white men and women died from the disease each year. The study used data from the National Center for Health Statistics. In other races, mortality rates colorectal cancer remained stable.

Among the specific age groups in which mortality increased were: a 1.6 percent rise in those ages 30 to 39 years; a 1.9 percent increase for those ages 40 to 49 years; and 0.9 percent rise per year for those ages 50 to 54 years. Conversely, rated declined in black individuals in every age group.

“Although the risk of colorectal cancer remains low for young and middle-aged adults, rising mortality strongly suggests that the increase in incidence is not only earlier detection of prevalent cancer, but a true and perplexing escalation in disease occurrence,” said Rebecca Siegel, lead American Cancer Society investigator. “It is especially surprising for people in their 50s, for whom screening is recommended, and highlights the need for interventions to improve use of age-appropriate screening and timely follow-up of symptoms.”

The study notes that screening for colorectal cancer has increased for all age groups over 50, but is lower in people ages 50 to 54 than those 55 years and older – 44 percent compared to 62 percent, respectively.

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