NTY Coalition_final logo Colorectal cancer no longer discriminates on age. While colorectal cancer incidences and mortality rates in Canadians aged 50+ have been declining in recent years due to increased screening and surveillance programs, the opposite is unfortunately being reported for our younger population.

In the last few years, Canadian doctors have observed a rapid increase in the number of patients under age 50 with colorectal cancer. What makes it even more concerning is that they cannot explain why.

The study also found that younger patients are getting diagnoses at later stages making them harder to treat and leading to increasing fatalities. These shocking statistics reveal that there is more work to be done in terms of prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer in Canada – especially for young adults.


In the last year, the CCAC has partnered with the Never Too Young (“N2Y”) Coalition, an organization united to take action on young onset of colorectal cancer through action, education, and research. The Coalition includes medical professionals, patient advocacy organizations, cancer survivors and caregivers working to educate the public about this growing issue and to reduce the number of late stage young-onset colorectal cancer cases.

Together with the N2Y coalition, the CCAC provides support and information to young patients in Canada who have experienced early onset of the disease.

Young patients may not always understand the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, which may delay their seeking medical attention. Symptoms of CRC can vary from blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, constipation and much more.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, men are more at risk than women for the disease. Eating processed and red meats, a lack of dietary fiber, a lack of physical exercise, obesity, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and genetics are also identified as risk factors.

Younger patients should consider the following when speaking to their doctors about their inherited risk or symptoms for colorectal cancer:

Family Tree

About 10% of the population has a first degree relative with colon or rectal cancer. If it is evident in your family tree, it is recommended to start screening as early as the age of 25.

Lynch Syndrome

Changes in certain genes increase your risk of colon cancer.
Lynch Syndrome is the most common type of inherited colon cancer, accounting for about 2% of all colon cancer cases. Lynch syndrome is a mutation of a gene that is responsible for fixing errors in your DNA. Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), is an hereditary disorder caused by a genetic mutation in which affected individuals have a higher than normal chance of developing colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, and various other types of aggressive cancers, often at a young age. To prevent colorectal cancer, people with Lynch Syndrome should undergo a colonoscopy every 1-2 years, starting in their twenties. Doing this will reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 77%.

References:
http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/rapid-increase-in-colorectal-cancers-among-young-canadians-study-finds-1.2919527