Beating bowel cancer together

Number of young people developing bowel cancer has jumped by a fifth in the US

The incidence of bowel cancer in younger people has risen by a fifth in a decade, according to a US study published in the journal Cancer

Bowel cancer is more common in the over 50s but it can affect people of all ages.

The proportion of cases in people under 50 in the US has risen from 10 per cent in 2004 to 12.2 per cent in 2015. Similar trends have been seen in the UK.

The study by the University of Texas at Austin, led by Dr Boone Goodgame, analysed trends in bowel cancer. The researchers examined information from the National Cancer Database registry, which includes more than 70 per cent of new cases in the US.

From 2004 to 2015, the year the most recent data is available, 130,165 patients under 50 and 1,055,598 patients over 50 were diagnosed with bowel cancer.
More than half (51.6 per cent) of younger adults being diagnosed when they were in the most advanced stages.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “This study further adds to the growing body of evidence that shows more younger people are developing early onset bowel cancer around the world. Although the disease is much more common in those over 50, each year in the UK over 2,500 younger people will be diagnosed. We know from our Never Too Young campaign that young people often face a delay in their diagnosis, which leads to around 60% being diagnosed with more advanced disease, over 30% as an emergency.

“Finding quicker, more effective ways to identify and diagnose younger people early, including those at higher risk with genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome, is vitally important. This must include ensuring GPs have access to appropriate first line tests so that they can more easily identify people quickly who need to be referred onto diagnostics. Bowel cancer can be successfully treated but early diagnosis makes a huge difference so we must do all we can to rule bowel cancer out in younger patients quickly.”



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