While bowel cancer cases have fallen dramatically in older patients, there is an increase in cases among younger people. According to Bowel Cancer UK, over 2,500 people diagnosed with the condition each year are under 50 years old.
Like any form of cancer, fast diagnosis and treatment is crucial to combat the disease. New research has revealed that a FIT test could help to diagnose bowel cancer in young people. Here, we’ll look at what the research found, and what is driving the rise in cases in younger patients.
Understanding the new study
The new study looked at whether FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test), could be used to detect cancer in younger patients. The test currently looks out for hidden blood within the stools. But by increasing the sensitivity of the test, researchers believe it could help diagnose bowel cancer earlier in young people.
The test has already been trialled in Nottingham and Leicester. Those who received an abnormal test result, were investigated through urgent referrals. Approximately 60% of those tested didn’t require any further testing. This has helped to reduce delays in bowel cancer diagnosis.
Why are cases rising in young adults?
Cases of bowel cancer in younger patients are rising considerably. However, experts are currently unsure what causes the early onset of the disease.
In September 2020, over 400 experts including scientists and patient advocates, came together to discuss the issue. They determined that identifying the causes and risk factors of the disease in younger people was paramount.
In contrast, cases of bowel cancer in older adults have fallen drastically in recent years. This is being credited to regular testing. Younger patients aren’t typically tested for bowel cancer. And when they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed as something else.
So, the key to combating the rise of bowel cancer in younger patients could be to increase testing. Therefore, the new FIT test could help.
Bowel cancer symptoms to watch out for
Until better testing is available, younger patients are advised to watch out for the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. These include:
- Blood in your stools
- Persistent and unexplained changes in bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
- A lump, or pain within the stomach
If you have any of the symptoms above, you should have them checked out. For instance, they can point to other potentially less serious conditions. Blood in your stools may be linked to haemorrhoids. But if you feel you have been diagnosed incorrectly, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
To sum up, cases of bowel cancer are rising in young people, so it is important to get medical advice if you are concerned about symptoms. If you do suffer with haemorrhoids, there are many treatment options available. Book a consultation at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to find out more.