Help us to stop bowel cancer

US study shows increase in young people diagnosed with bowel cancer

Today (Wednesday 1 March) a study by the American Cancer Society shows that people born in 1990 have double the risk of bowel cancer, and four times the risk of rectal cancer, compared to those born in 1950.

In the UK, bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer, with more than 41,000 people diagnosed with the disease every year. Of those, 2,540 people are under the age of 50. While this is only six per cent of those diagnosed, this number is increasing.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK, says: “This interesting study highlights the growing trend in bowel cancer in under 50s in the US - the UK is seeing a similar pattern. Every year in the UK, 2,540 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, a 45 per cent increase over the last 10 years.

“It’s interesting that there is a particularly steep rise in the number of people under the age of 55 diagnosed with rectal cancer in America and research has indicated a similar pattern in many countries around the world.  This same research needs to be carried out in the UK to better understand current trends here.  

“The report highlights the rise in cases in people with no known family history and this might be due in part to lifestyle factors, such as obesity but this does not explain all these new cases so further research is needed to really understand why incidence is rising in this way.  

“The report also highlights the link with genetic causes of bowel cancer. At Bowel Cancer UK, as part of our Never Too Young campaign, we’re calling for improvements to the identification and management of people at higher risk of bowel cancer including people with a known genetic condition such as Lynch syndrome or a strong family history of the disease. It's vital that we support people at high risk, many who present young, to ensure any worrying changes are detected as early as possible."

Read more about our Never Too Young campaign.

Sign our petition and put pressure on UK health ministers to step in and take responsibility for people with Lynch syndrome and their families.