As the prevalence of colorectal cancer rises “slowly and steadily” among patients under the age of 50 years, clinicians have three major opportunities to reduce the disease in this population, according to Matthew Kalady, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic.
The first strategy is clinical, according to Kalady. Physicians must be cognizant of symptoms and family histories. “Often, young people who have bleeding from the rectum, which is a common symptom of colorectal cancer, tend to blow that off,” he said.
The second opportunity occurs after diagnosis. Genetic testing can determine what factors may be underlying the disease, allowing for evaluation of family members who may be at risk and opportunities for earlier screening and detection, according to Kalady.
The third approach involves learning from patients with colorectal cancer. As novel screening techniques are developed that Kalady said can be “widely applicable” to patients younger than 50 years, clinicians will have the opportunity to “identify these people through better risk assessment.”