Colorectal Cancer on the Rise Among Younger Adults, Prompting Urgent Research Efforts

Mar 30, 2023 at 06:15 pm by Alex

Colorectal Cancer on the Rise Among Younger Adults, Prompting Urgent Research Efforts

Nikki Lawson's life took a sudden turn in her mid-thirties when she experienced troubling symptoms such as persistent stomach discomfort, urgent restroom needs, and even blood in her stool. Despite seeking medical attention, the cause of her distress was initially misdiagnosed as a stomach ulcer. Looking back on the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, who submitted to colon cancer at 43, Nikki Lawson noticed that her symptoms fell in line with those Chadwick Boseman had experienced. Nonetheless, she never imagined that cancer could be the cause of her health problems.

Originally, Lawson tried to ease her symptoms by changing her diet, eliminating certain red meats, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Subsequently, she lost a considerable amount of weight, crediting it to her dietary changes. However, a routine physical exam conducted by her primary care physician revealed low iron levels, leading to an immediate referral to a gastroenterologist.

Her Health Changes Didn’t Work

After visiting the gastroenterologist, Lawson received life-changing information. The doctor let her know that they had discovered something concerning and sent it for testing. The results confirmed her fears – she had cancer. At only 35 years old and leading a healthy life, raising her daughter, the diagnosis was an incredible shock.

Lawson's case is not an isolated one. The United States is witnessing a concerning trend, with an increasing number of colon and rectal cancer patients being diagnosed at younger ages. The share of colorectal cancer diagnoses in adults under 55 has been gradually increasing since the 1990s, but the reasons behind this rise remain uncertain.

Researchers Struggle To Understand Why

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are encouraging more comprehensive efforts to understand, prevent, and treat colorectal cancer in younger people. In a recent paper published in the journal Science, Dr. Marios Giannakis and Dr. Kimmie Ng outlined a plan to accelerate investigations into the puzzling surge of colorectal cancer cases among younger age groups. They call for the establishment of specialized research centers dedicated to studying younger patients with the disease. In addition, they highlight the importance of including diverse populations in studies focused on early-onset colorectal cancer.

The urgency of understanding this trend is highly important, as early detection and effective treatments are vital for improving the outcomes and quality of life for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a young age. By escalating research efforts and fostering collaboration, the scientific community aims to unravel the mystery behind this concerning rise and develop targeted strategies to combat the disease.