Rectal Cancer on the Increase in Younger People

Analysis of 1973 to 2005 data finds annual percent change of 2.6 percent in rectal cancer incidence

TUESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of rectal cancer and rectosigmoid cancer in younger patients appears to have been increasing in recent decades, according to research published online Aug. 23 in Cancer.

Joshua E. Meyer, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed 1973 to 2005 data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry for 7,661 patients with colon, rectal, and rectosigmoid cancer who were diagnosed before the age of 40. The researchers assessed the trends in the incidence of colon and rectal/rectosigmoid cancer and compared the annual percent changes for colorectal cancer anatomic subsites.

The investigators found an increase in the incidence of rectal cancer but not colon cancer (annual percent changes of 2.6 and −0.2 percent, respectively). This was a statistically significant difference and extended to rectosigmoid cancer but not sigmoid colon cancer or descending colon cancer (annual percent changes of 2.2, 0.4, and −2.8 percent, respectively). The trends were significant for both sexes and all races studied.

"Although these rates are not high enough to warrant a change in current screening guidelines, we suggest strong consideration of the endoscopic evaluation of young patients presenting with rectal bleeding or other common signs or symptoms of rectal or rectosigmoid cancer," the authors write.

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