In 2008, approximately 6% of all new cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosed occurred before the age of 40 and 3% of those cases diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. While CRC is considered rare overall among young adults, the incidence in this population has been increasing over the last 25 years with predisposing factors still unknown. Commonly children and young adults diagnosed with CRC present with symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, involuntary weight loss and a change in bowel habits. Studies have shown there to be a significant delay in the diagnosis of CRC in the young adult population, which may be due to the nonspecific symptoms patients may present with. Combine these delays with unique tumor biology, we may begin to see reasons why young adults present more often with advanced stage diseases.
Source: Zbuk K, Sidebotham E, Bleyer A, et al. Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults. Semin Oncol. 2009; 36:439-450.
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