Significant increase in colorectal cancer cases in people under 50 years of age

The rate of colorectal cancer continues to rise

The number of cases of colorectal cancer in people under the age of 50 has increased steadily in recent decades. If advanced colorectal cancer is found in younger patients, the disease is more likely to be at an advanced stage.

The latest study by the University of Texas found that more and more young people are developing colon cancer. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Cancer".

Cases of colon cancer in the United States

Between 2004 and 2015, 130,165 people under the age of 50 in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, compared to 1,055,598 people over the age of 50, the study authors report. It was evident that, on average, the disease was diagnosed more often in younger people in urban areas, as well as in areas with higher incomes. The data used for the study came from the National Cancer Database register. However, since it was only an observational study, the authors could not give any reason for the increase.

Colon cancer screening guidelines should be adjusted

Due to the lack of checkups, younger patients are more likely to suffer and die from advanced forms of colon cancer. The authors of the study explain that the data from the current examination should be taken into account in the ongoing discussion of the screening guidelines. Last year, the American Cancer Society raised concerns about the rise in colorectal cancer rates in people under the age of 50. As a result, existing guidelines were updated to begin screening for the disease at 45 years of age. Before that, the guidelines recommended colorectal cancer screening from the age of 50.

Early screening in people with no increased family risk?

The results of several studies have already shown that the rate of colon cancer among younger adults in the United States has been slowly increasing since the 1970s. However, it now appears that significantly more young people develop colorectal cancer than was the case ten years ago. Since the number of cases of colorectal cancer due to inherited causes is much higher among younger people, it is not known whether screening for sporadic cases in a group with such a low disease rate makes sense. It is therefore imperative to rigorously test the various hypotheses to increase the incidence of colorectal cancer in people under the age of 50 to determine whether changing the current screening age is appropriate for public health reasons in people with no increased family risk the researchers report.

Colon Cancer Symptoms?

Initially, colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, but as the disease progresses, it may result in blood in the feces and abdominal pain, cramps, and unexplained weight loss. This type of cancer usually begins as a so-called precancerous polyp or uncontrolled cell growth in the colon or rectum. A low-fat diet and the consumption of sufficient fruit, vegetables and whole grains are recommended to reduce the risk of the disease. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • John Virostko, Anna Capasso, Thomas E. Yankeelov, Boone Goodgame: Recent trends in the age at diagnosis of colorectal cancer in the US National Cancer Data Base, 2004-2015, in Cancer (query: 22.07.2019), Cancer

Video: Colon cancer on the rise in young adults. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (January 2022).