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Research Suggests Colorectal Cancer on the Rise among Gen X and Millennials

Research Suggests Colorectal Cancer on the Rise among Gen X and Millennials

According to a study by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer has risen steadily among young and middle-aged U.S. adults. The findings come as an overall decline in new cases of colon or rectal cancer have declined among people older than 50, who were believed to be most at risk of the disease and therefore most likely to be screened via a colonoscopy. However, the current data shows colon and rectal cancer diagnoses among patients in their 20s increased annually by 2.4 percent and 1 percent for those in their 30s. If you are at risk for colorectal cancer, The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital is offering a free lecture for you to learn how to prevent the deadly disease.

Free Program

Rayani, Shayan UCMCJoin Dr. Shayan Rayani, medical oncologist with The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital, on Tuesday, May 16.  He will discuss the latest information on screening and prevention of colon and rectal cancers. This free program will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. Participants will receive a complimentary Colon Cancer Screening Kit to take home.  Register to attend.

The exact cause for the increase in colorectal cancer rates in young U.S. residents may still be unclear, but the researchers noted that the increase has tracked closely with rising obesity rates. Other risk factors for colorectal cancer cited in the study were excessive alcohol consumption, infectious disease such as the human papillomavirus, and a sedentary lifestyle.

“Since a majority of colorectal cancer cases can be cured when found and treated at an early stage, it is very important to get regular screenings – especially if you have some risk factors,” said Dr. Shayan Rayani.


Get Screening before Symptoms

You may not know you have colorectal cancer because there are no warning signs in the early stages of the disease.  The concept of screening is being tested when a person is feeling fine and has no symptoms or problems. The best way to know if you have colorectal cancer—before you have symptoms—is to be screened for the disease.

However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • any change in the usual pattern or frequency of bowel habits
  • diarrhea, constipation, or a feeling that your bowels have not emptied completely
  • blood in the stool that is either bright-red or very dark
  • stools that are narrower than usual
  • frequent gas pains, cramping, or bloating.

The majority of colon cancer cases begin as small, non-cancerous growths—called polyps—that can become cancerous over time. Polyps may appear in either the colon or the rectum, both of which are part of the large intestine. Fortunately, up to 90% of colon and rectal cancers can be prevented just by finding and removing polyps before they become a cancer.

Silver Cross offers free fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) to look for hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of cancer.  The test is quick and easy. Using a Colon Cancer Screening Kit, you take small samples of your stool at home and send them to the Silver Cross Lab to be tested.  Results are sent back to you to share with your doctor.

The golden standard screening is a colonoscopy. This test is performed in a Silver Cross Endoscopy Suite under sedation. A slender, hollow tube connected to a video camera is inserted into the rectum that allows the doctor to look for polyps. If any are found, they can be removed during the 15 to 30 minute procedure and sent to the Lab for further examination.

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