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New Studies Shows Increase in Late-Stage Colorectal Cancer Diagnoses and a Rise in Young Adults

The trend for late-stage colorectal cancer may be linked to fewer screening procedures during COVID-19 pandemic according to researchers.

Late-stage diagnoses of colorectal cancer may be linked to lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. USMD physicians are concerned that people may have been delaying routine medical care during the pandemic because they were concerned about exposure to COVID-19. The late-stage cancers being diagnosed now might have been picked up at an earlier stage if screening had been performed.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and is the third-leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news of increasing colorectal cancer rates is alarming—particularly when it affects those younger than the new screening recommendation age of 45 years old. Here, experts in the field of colorectal cancer help parse out the new findings, explain what to know about current screening recommendations, and point out early signs of disease to watch for.

When it comes to your colon health, age plays an important factor. According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of colorectal cancer increases after the age of 50 and most cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed after age 50. Detecting colorectal cancer early is important. When colorectal cancer is found at the localized stage, meaning there is no sign the cancer has spread outside of the colon or the rectum, there is a 90 percent relative survival rate, based on the American Cancer Society’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data.

Screening is as important now as it was before the pandemic. It’s recommended that all adults aged 45 to 75 years be screened for colorectal cancer and adults 75 or older should be selectively screened, considering the patient’s overall health, prior screening history and patient preferences. With COVID-19, patients might think that a hospital is the last place they should go now. However, hospitals and clinics are following protocols to sanitize, socially distance and keep infected people in isolated areas to ensure patients are safe and feel comfortable.

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