Colorectal cancer rates low, but rising among younger people: Study

New research, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, found colorectal cancer rates have risen between 45% and 500% for people too young for routine screenings, though the overall cancer incidences are still low, NBC News reported May 9.

Routine screening is recommended every 10 years starting at age 45; however, the rates of colorectal cancer have been rising steadily for people ages 10 to 44 in the last two decades. 

The study found diagnoses in children 10 to 14 years old jumped from 0.1 cases per 100,000 in 1999 to 0.6 per 100,000 in 2020 — a 500% increase. Among people 15 to 19 years old, cases increased by 300% — 0.3 per 100,000 to 1.3 per 100,000 people. In people 20 to 24 years old, cases increased by 185% from 0.7 to 2 per 100,000 people.

For people over 25 years old, the increases were smaller, with those aged 40 to 44 seeing the smallest increase of 45% (from 15 cases per 100,000 people to about 21 per 100,000).

"It means that there is a trend," Islam Mohamed, MD, an internal medicine resident physician at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who led the research, told NBC. "We don't know what to make of it yet, it could be lifestyle factors or genetics, but there is a trend."

The study will be presented later this month at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, D.C.

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