Colon cancer is not considered as a disease of younger people. However, in the last twenty years colon cancer rates in people ages 20-49 have increased significantly. This tendency is expected to continue over the next two decades.
But why does this happen?
Scientists do not have any definite data that explains this increase. Some of them say this happens due to rising obesity rates or other dietary changes. Certain diets and environments increase the risk of colon cancer not only in older adults, but it may be a factor in younger people too. This happens because our diets are constantly changing and evolving from generations to generations.
Experts say young adults can protect themselves with these five tips:
1. Don’t overlook symptoms
Because young adults see colon cancer as a disease of the old, they ignore the symptoms.
But doctors say that many of the advanced cases of colon cancer are young people who have been misdiagnosed or had a delayed evaluation because people usually see it as a disease of older adults.
However, not everyone with colorectal cancer experience the same symptoms. Some people have anemia, others may see blood mixed with bowel movements. Also, patients may report belly pain or symptoms of blockage.
2. Know your risk and family history
Of course it is easier to treat this disease in the early stages, but many patients with colon cancer may not have any symptoms at the early stage.
Patients of all ages should know their family history. It is important to know if a close relative was ever treated for colon cancer or colon polyps.
3. Eat healthier, exercise and stop smoking
Regular exercise, fresh fruits and vegetables, including other high fiber foods, keep the colon healthy. Young people should reduce consumption of red meat and over-processed foods. Also, if they smoke, the best advice is they quit.
4. Talk to your doctor
Take your health seriously and develop a good relationship with your doctor. This way you won’t feel uncomfortable to discuss any unusual symptoms, so your doctor would know what to do at the very beginning.
5. Get a colonoscopy when your doctor recommends it
Colonoscopy isn’t currently recommended for younger people.
However, colonoscopy is a very safe procedure. We will see if these preventive measures will become routine for younger adults in the future.
Scientists learn more about the biology of colon cancer, so they will develop new methods to treat this disease in every patient, no matter their age. Maybe the colon cancer that appears in younger people has a different biology than in older adults.