NEW YORK (NBC News) – The vast majority of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in people over age 50, but a new study finds risks are increasing steadily for younger adults.
Young and vibrant, Jovannie Lorenzo doesn’t seem old enough to be a colon cancer survivor.
“When I go to the hospital and I’m sitting amongst 60 and 70 and 80 year olds, I get a lot of glares and looks and, ‘Why are you here? What are you doing here?'” she says.
Diagnosed at age 31, Jovannie’s story represents the rise in younger adults diagnosed with colon cancer.
The American Cancer Society now reports people in their 20s and 30s have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk for rectal cancer as their parents’ generation did at the same age.
“The risk of colon and rectal cancer for millennials – people born around 1990 – has escalated back to risk of people born in the late 1800s,” says Dr. Rebecca Siegel.
There’s no clear explanation why, but experts say the increase parallels the obesity epidemic.
Colorectal warning signs can include unusual abdominal cramping and changes in bowel habits.
The American Cancer Society recommends most adults start colon cancer screenings at age 50, but given this new research experts say those guidelines may need to be re-evaluated.