As with the majority of cancer, colorectal cancer (CRC) has historically been more common among the elderly than among younger patients. However, recent data suggest this is changing, with CRC becoming more common in young adults. This comes from the American Cancer Society’s most recent report on CRC cancer statistics, published this month in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The report, published every 3 years, evaluates data from population-based cancer registries and the National Center for Health Statistics to determine trends in CRC incidence and mortality in the United States.
According to the report, while CRC incidence has decreased steadily among adults over the age of 65, it has increased annually by 2% in patients younger than 50 and by 1% in patients between 50 and 65. Similarly, rates of mortality associated with CRC have decreased by 3% annually in adults over the age of 65, but have increased by 1.3% each year in individuals younger than 50. Despite the increasing rate of CRC among young adults, the majority of new cases of CRC still occur in adults over 50. Only 12% of the new cases and 7% of deaths due to CRC in 2020 are expected to occur in individuals under 50.
The authors concluded that rates of CRC are rising among young adults, due to a combination of obesity, diet, and other unknown factors, while rates are declining in older adults due to improved screening and prevention programs.
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