Most adults suffer with a colorectal condition at some point in their lives. While mostly harmless, sometimes the symptoms may be a sign of something more serious.
Studies have shown that bowel cancers are becoming more frequent in patients under the age of 50. Here, we will look at the rise in bowel cancer in younger patients. You will also discover some of the most important things to know about colorectal cancer.
Young Brits now more at risk of bowel cancer
A new study, published within the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, has revealed bowel cancers are on the rise in the under 50’s. Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, looked at colon cancer rates from 2004-2014 in developed countries.
The findings revealed that colon cancer in younger patients increased by 1.8%, while rectal cancer increased by 1.4% each year. It also showed that people born now, are at a higher risk of developing these cancers than older generations. There has been a particular increase in the number of patients aged 30-39, while there has been a 1.7% decrease in rectal cancer rates in the over 75s.
It is now estimated that one in 20 people will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer develops in the rectum or the colon. Both rectal and colon cancers are grouped together due to how similar they are to one another.
The majority of colorectal cancers develop within the lining of the rectum or colon. A polyp starts to grow, and over time this can turn into cancer. However, it is important to note that not all polyps will turn cancerous.
If cancer does develop, over time it can spread to the colon or rectal wall. It begins in the innermost layer of the wall, spreading throughout the other layers as it progresses. Once the cancer cells are within the wall, they can also spread into the blood vessels or lymph nodes.
What are the symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms to watch out for with colorectal cancers. These include:
- A frequent change in bowel habits
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blood in your stools
- Persistent abdominal pain and discomfort
- Unexplained weight loss
During the early stages of cancer, it is common for patients to experience no symptoms at all. When they do present, their severity will depend upon a number of factors such as the size of the cancer and where it is located.
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is essential you see your doctor for a check-up. Like all cancers, it is important to detect colorectal cancers as early as possible. The earlier treatment is started, the more successful it is likely to be.
At the moment, patients are invited to colorectal cancer screenings when they turn 60 years of age. This new study highlights how problematic this might be given the rise in cases in younger patients.
If you have symptoms or if you need more information, book an appointment at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to help put your mind at ease by calling 03000 204 734.