This cancer, whose risk factors include being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and eating processed meats, was detected after it had spread to other organs at higher rates – 60% in 2019, up from 52% in the mid-20s. 2000’s.
And the percentage of individuals diagnosed under age 55 nearly doubled to 20% in 2019 from 11% in 1995.
More people have resorted to at-home testing during the pandemic, while fewer people have undergone the longer and more expensive colonoscopies, said Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, senior vice president of surveillance and health equity science at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the study.
“The at-home results are very similar to a colonoscopy… I am very encouraged that rates have gone up during COVID-19, which tells me people are finding ways to do it. [tests] work for them.”
Home tests can reveal whether microscopic amounts of blood are leaking from precancerous lesions or check for mutated DNA signaling cancer.
“The best screening test is the one that gets done,” he said.
These tests must start at 45; the previous 50-year recommendation was cut 5 years ago, he said.
And anyone younger with a family risk of cancer should start earlier, he advised, recommending a decade before a relative is diagnosed.
Dr. Deborah Nagle, division chief of colon and rectal surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, highlighted the increase in cases among younger patients and the importance of follow-up colonoscopies.
“The rate of colorectal cancer in younger people, who would not normally think of themselves as at risk, [risen] and therefore symptoms should always be evaluated and colonoscopies considered early.”
This type of cancer, which is the third deadliest, affects more men than women: 41.5 in 100,000 men.
For women, the rate is 31.2, possibly because men tend to take more risks with their diets or other behaviors, experts say.
This disease, reassessed annually per 100,000 people, is most likely to occur among Native Americans, who have a rate of 88.5, followed by American Indians with a rate of 46 and blacks with a rate of 41.7. For whites, the rate is 35.7. Alaska Natives have the highest death rate at 50.5. For blacks, the rate is 17.6; for American Indians, it is 17.5; and for whites, it is 13.1.
By two measures, the rate of medical advances has slowed. Incidences have declined by 1% a year and mortality by just 2% over the past 10 years, the cancer society said, falling from 3% to 4% during the 2000s.
This year alone, 153,020 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which will claim the lives of 52,550 individuals, estimated the society.
It is usually treated by surgically removing a segment of intestine and possibly chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
“Once they recover from surgery, most have normal bowel function,” said Dr. Nagle. Removing the entire intestine is rarely necessary and surgeons have devised ways to reconstruct organs, eliminating the need for external appliances from earlier times, although patients may still have concerns.
Jim Arthur, 53, of Patchogue, said his doctor recommended a colonoscopy last year, where doctors discovered a 3-inch mass in his colon. He had surgery on March 3, 2022 to have it removed and has undergone five months of chemotherapy.
He underwent another colonoscopy on Wednesday.
“My mood is fine. I recommend everyone to buy it”, said Arthur. “Who knows where I would be today if I hadn’t done that. It’s nothing and it’s so easy to do. They make you feel comfortable and I had the best 10 minutes of sleep of my life.”