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Colorectal Cancer Rates Increasing in Younger Adults

In recent 13-year period, 20- to 29-year-olds saw largest annual percent increase in incidence

THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Though overall rates of colorectal cancer have been declining in the United States, incidence rates in adults under 50 years of age have been increasing since the early 1990s, according to research published in the June issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Rebecca L. Siegel, of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries from 1992 to 2005. Overall, incidence rates of colorectal cancer per 100,000 adults ages 20 to 49 years rose by 1.5 percent annually in men and 1.6 percent in women.

The largest annual percent increase was in the 20 to 29 age group, where increases of 5.2 percent in men and 5.6 percent in women were seen. Broken down by anatomic site, the researchers found increases in cancers of the distal colon and rectum in both sexes. Rectal cancer incidence rates increased 3.5 percent annually in men and 2.9 percent in women during this period.

"The increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in young adults is in contrast with the rapidly declining incidence among older individuals. The disparate increase in left-sided colorectal cancer suggests that particular attention be given to studies to elucidate the behavioral and environmental risk factors responsible for this trend and potential prevention and early detection strategies," the authors conclude.

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