The prevalence of colorectal cancer is increasing in US patients who are younger than 50 years and who are thus younger than the age for which routine colorectal cancer screening is recommended. Because they are not being screened, they are presenting with more advanced disease than patients aged 50 years or older, a nationally representative study indicates.
"In our study, we found that about 1 in 7 colorectal cancers are diagnosed in patients younger than the screening age of 50, and to put this in context, less than 1 in 20 invasive breast cancers are diagnosed before the screening age of 40," senior author Samantha Hendren, MD, MPH, University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, told Medscape Medical News in written correspondence.
"This certainly raises the question of whether screening for colorectal cancer should begin at an earlier age," she said, "but regardless of any changes that may be made to colorectal cancer screening, we think this research has the potential to improve practice today by raising awareness among patients and medical providers about the increasing number of patients under 50 who are developing colorectal cancer."
The study was published online January 25 in Cancer.