BEND, OR -- A new report by the American Cancer Society shows an increase in colorectal cancer among people under the age of 50. "Overall incidence of colorectal cancer is going down; and they looked at this between the years of 2011-2019. But, interestingly, the rates of colorectal cancer are going up in those under the age of 50," says Colon and Rectal Surgeon Dr. Dave Parsons. In response to those updated stats, the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer was lowered to 45 in 2021. "Colon Cancer is one of the few cancers in humans that can be prevented through screening."
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. "Most of us probably know someone who has had colon cancer, if you’ve lived long enough," says Dr. Parsons, "It’s very common. 150,000 people diagnosed every year with colorectal cancer in the United States, approximately." But, when caught early, 9 out of 10 are cured. "We know, overall, that the death rates from colon cancer have been going down. And, it’s presumably due to better screening, for the population that’s getting screened." However, he says only about two-thirds of the people eligible for a screening actually get it done, either by colonoscopy or home test. "I’d like to see 100% of people who are eligible getting screened, because - it may put me out of business - but I think it would be great."
March is colorectal cancer awareness month; the perfect time to start that conversation with your doctor.
To learn more about the importance of screenings, listen to our full conversation with Dr. Dave Parsons, Colon & Rectal Surgeon for Kaiser Permanente Northwest: