Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults
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The incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) have been decreasing in adults over 50 years of age, however, these rates have been increasing in adults under 50. The majority of CRC in young adults is sporadic, and is likely due to behavioral and environmental causes, however the exact etiology still remains unclear. The minority of CRC in this population is due to inherited CRC syndromes. Young adults with CRC are often symptomatic (abdominal pain, rectal bleeding), and diagnosis is often delayed due to reasons such as under-utilized health care services, and physicians attributing symptoms to diagnoses other than CRC. Young adults with CRC often have more aggressive tumor characteristics, but they tend to have better survival rates when compared with older adults when matched for stage. Treatment is the same for young patients with CRC, however there are issues that arise in this population that do not necessarily affect older adults, such as the negative effect of chemotherapy/radiation on fertility. It is not clear that screening individuals for CRC at ages under 50 is beneficial or cost-effective. Further studies are needed regarding this topic.
KeywordsColorectal cancer Young adults Colorectal cancer screening Review
The authors would like to thank Matthew Yurgelun, M.D. for thoughtful review and suggestions. Supported by NCI Grant K24 113433.
Conflict of interest
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