Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Whites demonstrate 'concerning' increase in colon cancer mortality

Whites demonstrate 'concerning' increase in colon cancer mortality

The researchers also found that the rise in death rates from colorectal cancer was confined to White individuals.

Experts are not sure why and say what is particularly concerning is that screening for colon cancer usually begins at age 50 yet the mortality rates are still rising for those between the ages of 50 and 54.

"Some of it may be due to the fact that there have been changes in young people, in the millennial generation, in terms of a more sedentary lifestyle, dietary changes, obesity may play a role, but that is not really clear", Dr. Andrea Cercek said.

"It's quite perplexing. It's not understood why this is happening, and that makes it even more concerning", said lead author Rebecca Siegel, strategic director of surveillance information services for the American Cancer Society. Although African-Americans continue to be more likely to die from colon cancer than other demographics, the rates among this group have actually declined.

In white individuals, death rates increased from 3.6 per 100,000 in 2004 to 4.1 in 2014.

In recent years, reports have consistently shown colorectal cancer rates have been rising in Americans under the age of 55.

Whites in their 40s saw deaths from colon cancer jump nearly 2 percent annually from 2005 to 2014.

For blacks, the rate of mortality declined steadily from 8.1 percent in 1970 to 6.1 percent in 2014. "This suggests that the obesity epidemic is probably not wholly responsible for the increase in disease".

They have also been surprised by the progression of the mortality by colorectal cancer in the over 50 years since its screening is recommended for decades from this age.

It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America and it's on the rise. But it should create "a sense of urgency and responsibility not to ignore signs that might indicate colon cancer". The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"This racial disparity is consistent with incidence, but in contrast to trends for major risk factors for colorectal cancer, like obesity, which has increased across all racial and ethnic groups", Siegel said.

Why this is so is unclear, Siegel said. Death rates are the gold standard for progress against cancer.

In the meantime, she emphasizes that while the overall risk of colorectal cancer in young and middle aged adults is still very small, there are preventive steps doctors and patients can take to protect themselves.

Colon cancer symptoms may include rectal bleeding, change in bowel movement and abdominal discomfort.

Five years later. after surgery and chemotherapy, Katie is doing well, but new research finds a growing number of people in their 30s, 40s and early 50s not only diagnosed with colon cancer but dying from aggressive tumors.

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