Rising Incidence and Mortality of Colorectal Cancer in Younger Populations: Challenges and Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment

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According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The organization provides regular updates on CRC statistics based on data from population-based cancer registries and the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2023, an estimated 153,020 people will be diagnosed with CRC, and 52,550 will die from the disease. Shockingly, 19,550 of these cases and 3,750 of these deaths will occur in people under 50 years of age.

Over the past few decades, there has been a decrease in CRC incidence. However, this decline has slowed down in recent years, with an annual reduction rate of only 1% since 2011, compared to a 3%-4% annual reduction rate in the 2000s. One contributing factor is the increase in CRC diagnoses among individuals under 55 years old, which has risen by 1%-2% annually since the mid-1990s. This trend has led to a higher proportion of CRC cases among younger people, with the percentage rising from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019.

Another concerning development is the increasing incidence of advanced-stage CRC in younger people. Since around 2010, there has been a rise in the incidence of regional-stage disease by 2%-3% annually and distant-stage disease by 0.5%-3% annually among those under 65 years old. This is a reversal of the earlier trend towards earlier stage diagnosis that occurred from 1995 to 2005. In 2019, 60% of all new CRC cases were advanced, compared to 52% in the mid-2000s and 57% in 1995.

There is also a shift towards left-sided tumors, with the proportion of rectal cancer increasing from 27% in 1995 to 31% in 2019. Despite an overall decline in CRC mortality of 2% annually from 2011 to 2020, there has been an increase of 0.5%-3% annually in mortality rates among individuals under 50 years old and Native Americans under 65 years old.

In summary, CRC is becoming increasingly prevalent among younger people, often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and affecting the left colon/rectum. To make progress against CRC, it is crucial to uncover the underlying causes of rising incidence and improve access to high-quality screening and treatment, especially among Native American populations.

Key Takeaways in a Nutshell – Health Newstrack

1. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

2. There has been a rise in CRC diagnoses among individuals under 55 years old, leading to a higher proportion of cases among younger people.

3. Advanced-stage CRC is becoming more prevalent among younger people, with a higher percentage of cases diagnosed at an advanced stage compared to previous years.

4. Left-sided tumors, particularly rectal cancer, are becoming more common.

5. Improving access to high-quality screening and treatment is essential, especially among Native American populations, to make progress against CRC.

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