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TV Interview: Colorectal Cancer Risk in Younger Adults

If you are younger than 50, the last thing on your mind is probably colon cancer, but it might be time to think about getting a colonoscopy sooner than you originally planned. Although colorectal cancer rates have dropped in recent years, the incidence of this cancer is climbing in younger adults. According to Cleveland Clinic, your risk of getting colon cancer before age 50 is now twice as high. The American Cancer Society (ACS) is now recommending that routine colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 45 for some.

Dr. Ryan Shelton joined WCNC’s Charlotte Today to talk about the new trend in colorectal cancer, how to manage risk, and yes, colonoscopies. Keep scrolling for more information and check out our colonoscopy prep hacks!


Why is colon cancer increasing in younger people?

  • We are not 100% sure, but we do know that younger people ignore cancer symptoms thinking it’s something benign, like hemorrhoids.
  • When colon cancer is finally diagnosed in younger people, it is often more advanced.
  • The important thing is to NOT DISMISS rectal bleeding, or any unexpected or prolonged change in bowel habits. Get it checked out!


Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, but it is the most preventable!
  • High-risk patients include those who have had family members with colon cancer or colon polyps, particularly younger than age 60.
  • High-risk patients also include those with a history of some gastrointestinal diseases.


How do you lower your risk? 

  • Maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and eat healthy, i.e. eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid red meats and processed meats.
  • Avoid smoking and heavy alcohol use.


Do I have to have a colonoscopy?

  • There are other tests (like a sigmoidoscopy) but the colonoscopy is the gold standard.
  • The worst part of the colonoscopy is the preparation. Thought it has come a long way there are things you can do to make the preparation more palatable. Learn more about colonoscopies and check out these colonoscopy prep hacks.
  • Remember, the best test is the one you will actually do. Any test is better than none. Talk to your doctor about your options!