Colorectal Cancer Rates Continue to Grow in Young Americans
April 13, 2023
According to a new report written by researchers at the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer rates in individuals under the age of 50 have grown by a whopping 50% since the mid-nineties. While most people in this age group may believe they are too young to receive a cancer diagnosis, this new data proves otherwise. In fact, researchers estimate that approximately 20,000 people under 50-years-old will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and that 3,750 will die from the disease.
Colorectal Cancer: General Information, Statistics, and Symptoms
Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum, which sometimes begins as noncancerous polyps (or abnormal growths). Because polyps, which are also known as adenomas, can turn into cancer over time, screening tests are useful in identifying them so that a medical professional can remove them before they become a problem. Although it is the third most common cancer, colorectal cancer is the second-most deadly cancer in the United States – and it is not only deadly among members of the younger age group.
The ACS’ report estimates that more than 52,000 Americans of all ages will die from CRC, or colorectal cancer, in 2023. In addition to CRC-related fatalities, more than 152,000 individuals will be newly diagnosed with the disease. The ACS’ report also details how more than half of all cases and deaths are attributable to modifiable risk factors, like smoking, high alcohol consumption, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excess body weight. Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- A personal family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- Certain genetic syndromes, like hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome) or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
Although colorectal cancer does not always cause symptoms, particularly when it is in an early stage, possible symptoms for the disease to watch out for include:
- A change in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in or on your stool
- Diarrhea, constipation, or the feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Abdominal aches, pains, or cramps that do not go away
Numerous conditions other than colorectal cancer can cause the symptoms above. But if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is still a good idea to make an appointment with a medical professional to determine the best course of action.
The American Cancer Society’s Current Screening Guidelines
This is not the first time that cancer researchers have taken notice of the growing colorectal rates in younger Americans. Just a bit over five years ago, for example, the ACS opted to create new colorectal cancer screening guidelines for that very reason. In 2018, the society began recommending that colorectal cancer screening start at the age of 45-years-old instead of 50. According to the ACS, the reason for its new guidelines was largely in part due to the growing incidence rate of non- and pre-cancerous polyps, which can turn into cancerous growths over time.
In addition to the risk factors that we discussed earlier, there are other red flags to look out for, particularly regarding adenomas. They are:
- Having a polyp or polyps that are larger than 1 centimeter
- Having more than 2 polyps
- Having a polyp that is accompanied by dysplasia, or an abnormal lining of the colon or rectum, or on a removed polyp
Other important takeaways from the American Cancer Society’s current guidelines include:
- Even though there are many different types of colorectal cancer screening tests, what is MOST important is to get screened no matter which method a medical professional ends up using
- Individuals who are in good health and have a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue being screened for colorectal cancers until they are 75-years-old. After that, they should discuss their options with their doctor
When Is It Time to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice occurs when a provider such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital deviates from the accepted standard of care and causes harm to a patient as a result. Although historically we may have considered cancer to be more of an “older” person’s disease, current data proves that this is not the case. Medical professionals not only must stay abreast of new information to ensure they are providing the most up-to-date care, but they also need to apply new knowledge to everyday scenarios, like screening younger patients for colorectal cancer. If a doctor fails to diagnose a patient in a timely manner or fails to diagnose the patient’s condition altogether, he or she should file a medical malpractice claim.
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys are experienced in representing victims of negligent medical care. Here are just a few examples of our firm’s notable recoveries on behalf of injured clients:
- Our client sustained bone fractures resulting from a fall. Although our client obtained medical care, his doctor sent him home without recognizing the signs and symptoms of a severe infection. Due to the doctor’s failure to notice these signs, our client suffered preventable complications. Our attorneys successfully settled this matter for $1.3 million to our client.
- Our client’s family member died because his family doctor failed to properly recognize the signs of an impending heart attack. Instead, the doctor diagnosed our client’s family member with indigestion, directly contributing to his untimely death.
If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.