Colon cancer mortality rates are rising - but mostly for young, white people

Whites demonstrate 'concerning' increase in colon cancer mortality

A new report finds that colorectal cancer mortality rates have increased in adults under 55 since the mid-2000s after falling for decades, strengthening evidence that previously reported increases in incidence in this age group are not exclusively the result of more screening.

Experts are not sure why and say what is particularly concerning is that screening for colon cancer usually begins at age 50 yet the mortality rates are still rising for those between the ages of 50 and 54.

"What's disturbing is that colon cancer is detectable and curable when detected early", said Dr. Darrell Gray, of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. White men and women, it appears, are driving the increases that have been noted. However, death rates for African Americans who had colon cancer fell during the study period from 0.4 percent to 1.1 percent annually.

Japan's National Cancer Center for the first time on August 9 released data showing the relative five-year survival rate of cancer patients at 188 hospitals around Japan - roughly half the number of institutions serving as bases for cancer treatment.

Black individuals in the USA had death rates from this form of the deadly disease slipped 0.4 per cent to 1.1 per cent annually, on average. "This suggests that the obesity epidemic is probably not wholly responsible for the increase in disease".

The ACA recommends most people start colon cancer screenings at age 50.

These findings are consistent with an increase in the number of whites getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but not blacks.

"The trend in colorectal cancer death rates in blacks is consistent with incidence trends, which are stable", Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH, director of surveillance information at the American Cancer Society, told HemOnc Today. There were over 242,000 deaths due to this cancer in that time frame. "The answer is that no one really knows why this is happening", Siegel said.

The report was published August 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In contrast, the mortality rates for blacks in their 50s has declined since 1993. The authors note that these disparate racial patterns are inconsistent with trends in major risk factors for colorectal cancer like obesity, which is universally increasing.

This surge in colorectal cancer deaths was particularly surprising since, for decades, screening has been recommended for those 50 years old and up.

"But I think one of the most important messages is that people less than 50, people under 50, can certainly get colon cancer and they can certainly die of colon cancer".

Know the symptoms. Persistent bleeding from the rectum or in the stool, cramping and change in bowel habits are the most common symptoms associated with colorectal cancer.



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