LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers are older than 50. However, a new study by the American Cancer Society has found cases in younger people are on the rise.
"That uptick is more prominent in people who are less than 40 years of age, some even less than 30. So that is a huge area of concern and an area of research," said Dr. Ahmad Hanif with Geisinger Wyoming Valley.
Dr. Hanif explains that some of the risk factors of these cancers are specific to family history. But research is still being done to understand how lifestyle habits like diet, alcohol use, and lack of exercise play a role.
"Eating processed meats, red meat, less fiber — unfortunately, these are some habits that are creeping in more in the younger generation. So, these might explain at least some part of it, but we don't exactly understand the exact science behind the overall increase," said Dr. Hanif.
Researchers say people under 55 are 58 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a late-stage cancer due to delays in checking out symptoms.
"Like unintentional weight loss, any rectal bleeding, pain in the abdomen that doesn't go away, especially those slow dull aches that don't go away for weeks. Even any change in bowel movements, these should not be ignored by younger people because the older thinking was, 'Yes, I am young; cancer cannot happen to me.' But I think that thinking has changed now," said Dr. Hanif.
Doctors with Geisinger continue to recommend early screenings and healthy lifestyle habits to lower your risk for colorectal cancer.
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