Younger Adults increasing Colorectal Cancer Rates

winslow rm illustration of colorectal cancer stages
After decades of declining colorectal cancer rates, the disease appears to be increasing in younger adults, suggests a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Using a U.S. cancer registry, researchers examined nearly 500,000 cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed between 1974 and 2013.

While colon cancer incidence rates declined in those aged 55 and older beginning in the mid-1980s, rates increased by 2.4% annually for adults in their 20s and by 1.0% among those in their 30s. For rectal cancer, the annual increase among young adults was even steeper — 3.2%. Colorectal cancer rates also increased recently among adults in their 40s and early 50s, but not as sharply.

Young adults’ colorectal cancer risk is now similar to that of older adults and though the study didn’t address “why”, one could speculate many possibilities.