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Is Colorectal Cancer a concern for people under 45?

Colorectal cancer is on the decline. Experts chalk that up to more people getting their regular colonoscopies, which can prevent precancerous polyps from becoming cancer. But the disease is rising sharply in people ages 18 to 35, a population that is years away from getting their first screening colonoscopy. Since the 1990s, the rate of colorectal cancer (which includes cancers of the colon and rectum) has more than doubled among adults younger than 50. Not only that, but more younger people are dying from the disease.

Why the rise?

Some groups have been hit by the rising trend more than others. For instance, although people of all races can develop colorectal cancer at a young age, the spike has mostly been seen among Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Whites. It is estimated that 25% of the cases can be attributed to family history of the disease or to hereditary conditions such as Lynch syndrome or FAP, but the majority have no associated risk factors.

When should you start getting screenings?

The American Cancer Society now recommends starting screening when you turn 45, if you’re at average risk for developing colon cancer; earlier, if you have a family history of the disease or other risk factors. Screening is the key to prevention!

The following symptoms could be signs of colon cancer. You should talk to a doctor if you have:

  • Persistent changes in your bowel habits. This includes constipation, diarrhea, or your stool’s consistency changes.
  • Blood in your stool / rectal bleeding
  • Persistent discomfort in your abdomen (pain, cramps, gas)
  • A feeling like you can’t empty your bowel completely
  • Persistent fatigue/weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you have one or more of these symptoms you should see a doctor.  Many of these symptoms could be related to problems not related to colon cancer.  Your doctor can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan.

Remember: Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers through routine colonoscopy screening. Over 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided with screening.

Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio (GCSA) accepts most insurances, including HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medicaid plans.

Colonoscopies typically receive excellent insurance coverage, and we accept a wide variety of plans to make screening for colorectal cancer affordable for as many people as possible. However, your plan may still require some out-of-pocket contribution. We offer CareCredit® and in-house financing to make sure you can access this important procedure. To learn more about insurance and financial policies, visit our FAQ.

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