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Cases of colorectal cancer have more than tripled in teenagers in 20 years

The cases of colorectal cancer are already increasing in people under 50, according to the most recent evidence. Now, a new study has shown that teenagers are also being more affected by the disease in the last two decades. According to the research, which will be presented in Digestive Disease Week 2024 — the largest international meeting of doctors and researchers in the areas of gastroenterology — the rate of colorectal cancer increased by 333% among adolescents aged 15 to 19, between 1999 and 2020.

Furthermore, the study showed that the increase is even more significant among children aged 10 to 14: in the last 20 years, rates of this type of cancer have increased by 500% in this age group. Among young adults ages 20 to 24, cases increased by 185%.

“Colorectal cancer is no longer considered just a disease of the elderly population,” says lead researcher Islam Mohamed, internal medicine resident at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in the United States, in press release. “It is important for the public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer.”

To arrive at these numbers, the team used the database from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. From this, it was possible to calculate trends in colorectal cancer rates in people aged 10 to 44, between 1999 and 2020.

However, despite the high growth, according to Mohamed, the number of cases of colorectal cancer among children and adolescents is still not high enough to suggest that colonoscopy, the main test for diagnosing this type of tumor, be indicated as screening for this type of tumor. age group. Currently, the guidelines advise that the exam be carried out from the age of 45 and be repeated every 10 years, in case of a negative result.

According to the research, in 2020, only 0.6 children aged 10 to 14 per 100 thousand inhabitants were diagnosed with the disease, compared to 0.1 per 100 thousand in 1999. Diagnoses in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years went from 0.3 to 1.3 per 100 thousand, in the same period. In young adults, cases increased from 0.7 to 2 per 100,000.

Increases in colorectal cancer rates were also found in older age groups, with rates increasing 71% in ages 30 to 34 (6.5 people diagnosed per 100,000 population) and 58% in ages 35 to 39 ( 11.7 per 100,000) in 2020. While the 40 to 44 age group had a smaller percentage increase of 37%, this group had the highest incidence rate, reaching 20 per 100,000 people in 2020.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the large intestine (colon) and rectum (end of the intestine). According to the Ministry of Health, the disease normally develops from polyps, which can be identified through colonoscopy.

Risk factors for developing the disease include a family history of inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer, as well as obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and eating habits with low fiber consumption and high consumption of ultra-processed foods, such as processed meats, sugary drinks and high-fat diets.

A study published late last year in the scientific journal BMJ Oncology had already shown that global cancer cases in people under 50 years old increased by 79% between 1990 and 2019. Furthermore, cancer deaths in the same age group also grew by more than 27%, with more than 1 million young people dying from the disease.

Colorectal cancer is among the main causes of the highest number of deaths in this age group, according to the study, alongside breast, tracheal, lung and stomach cancer.

In an article previously published in CNN , physician Leana Wen, adjunct associate professor at George Washington University, some hypotheses may explain the reason behind this increase. “Some researchers point to the increase in obesity rates in recent decades, which is associated with the risk of early-onset cancer. On a related note, changing eating habits, specifically increased consumption of ultra-processed foods, and sedentary lifestyles are also associated with higher rates of cancer,” she explains.

Source: CNN Brasil

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