The number of colorectal cancer sufferers under 30 is increasing. More exercise and a healthier diet could lower the risk. But everyone should also be aware of their genetic risk – it is precisely the family history that often leads to colon cancer at a young age.

Most cancer patients are over 60 when they are diagnosed. This also applies to colon cancer, the second most common cancer in Germany. Half of the patients are over 70 when they find out about their condition. However, oncologists have registered an increase in colorectal cancer cases in people under 50 in recent years. The increase in very young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 is particularly large.

The development was first noticed by US researchers. In the USA, the number of younger sufferers has doubled in 25 years. In 2018, one in ten colon cancers was diagnosed in people under 50. In the case of older people, on the other hand, the number of cases tended to decrease. Screenings that are recommended to people from midlife onwards apparently show their effect here.

A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has examined this trend internationally and evaluated 21 cancer registries from seven western countries for the last ten years. They consistently found an increase in the number of cases for the U50 generation.

In the 20 to 29 age group, the increase is also worrying. Colon cancer has not been an issue in this group so far – apart from people with a genetic predisposition and a high family risk. Researchers at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam carried out a very similar study. They analyzed 25 years of European data and found a high increase in colorectal cancer among young adults. Between 2004 and 2016, it was an increase of almost 8 percent per year.

Our PDF guide explains how you can prevent digestive problems and treat intestinal diseases properly.

The information published in the journals “Lancet Gastroenterology

Various studies have shown that high meat consumption, fast food, convenience foods and all highly processed foods are harmful to gut health – especially when they crowd out fresh foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber from the menu.

From the experts’ point of view, however, the risk from a lifestyle that is harmful to the intestine does not explain why younger patients often have aggressive tumors. A US study found that cancer patients under the age of 50 had more metastases when they were diagnosed than older colorectal cancer patients at the time of the initial diagnosis.

Since colorectal cancer usually develops from harmless polyps on the lining of the colon, its development can be prevented if screening tests detect these precursors to cancer. If they are removed, there is no breeding ground for cancer.

The diagnosis of colon cancer not only means an emotional collapse for those affected, but often also a financial one. The Colon Cancer Patient Aid supports these families. You can donate or apply for help here:

A check-up with colonoscopy, which in Germany is available to men over 50 and women over 55 as a statutory health insurance benefit, cannot be implemented across the board for all younger people. This is primarily a question of effort and costs.

Regular and frequent colonoscopies are currently only available for younger people over the age of 25 who have a significant family risk of colon cancer (Lynch syndrome). If a close relative has colorectal cancer, experts generally recommend a colonoscopy ten years before the relative is diagnosed, and no later than 45 years of age.

In addition, cancer researchers do not yet know how to identify potential patients at a younger age before colorectal cancer develops. They therefore appeal above all to doctors to get to the bottom of abdominal pain and intestinal problems in young adults – cancer could be behind it.

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