Beating bowel cancer together

New research suggests increase in younger people diagnosed with bowel cancer

The number of younger adults diagnosed with bowel cancer is rising in England, according to new research published in the British Journal of Surgery. This study adds to the evidence of the growing trend in bowel cancer in the under 50s.

The researchers used data from over four decades to chart the trend of bowel cancer in younger adults in England. The target population comprised all adults in England between the ages of 20 and 49 years who were diagnosed with bowel cancer from 1974 to 2015.

The study highlights that the increase in bowel cancer incidence in younger people is predominantly driven by an increase in tumours in the lower part of the bowel (sigmoid colon and rectum). While this increase does not seem to be linked to with gender or deprivation, there are some regional differences. The fastest increase in the number of people diagnosed with bowel cancer was found in southern regions.

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “This research builds on other studies that show the number of people under 50 diagnosed with bowel cancer is on the rise, but it doesn’t tell us why there is an increase. We must understand this better which is why we are funding research to get vital answers to that question.

“Every year over 2,500 younger people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK. We know through our Never Too Young campaign that younger bowel cancer patients have a very different experience of diagnosis, treatment and care. They are more likely to be diagnosed in an emergency situation and at a later stage, when the disease is much harder to treat. Whilst the actual numbers remain small, 6% of the 42,000 diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK, this is an important group that can no longer be overlooked.”

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