Colorectal cancer cases among Millennials and Generation X rising dramatically

Since the 1980s, cases of both colon and rectal cancer have dropped overall, but a recent study finds incidence rates among two groups are on the rise.

According to research led by the American Cancer Society, both Millennials and Gen Xers are being diagnosed with the diseases in worrisome numbers.

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A release about the study notes, "colorectal cancer...incidence rates are rising in young and middle-aged adults, including people in their early 50s, with rectal cancer rates increasing particularly fast. As a result, three in ten rectal cancer diagnoses are now in patients younger than age 55."

In arriving at this conclusion, the team, "conducted a retrospective study of all patients 20 years and older diagnosed with invasive CRC from 1974 through 2013."

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It found that among those in the 20-to-39 age group, from mid-1980s through 2013, colon cancer incidence rates increased by 1% to 2% per year.

For those in the 40-to-54 range, from mid-1990s through 2013, colon cancer rates increased by 0.5% to 1% per year and rectal cancer rates increased by 2% per year.

According to the New York Times, "the American Cancer Society estimates about 13,500 new cases of colon and rectal cancers will be diagnosed in Americans under 50 this year, with more than 95,500 cases of colon cancer and nearly 40,000 cases of rectal cancer in all age groups."

The study team suggests that the affected generations consider adopting healthier and more active lifestyles.

It also recommends that screenings be performed earlier than is typical.