Well the overall number of cancer deaths is on the decline but the number of cases are on the rise and according to the American Cancer Society they're being diagnosed at younger ages colon cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths for people under 50 among men ranking second for women and Dr Curtis Chong is a clinical assistant.
Professor of medical onocology at Stanford so Dr thanks for joining us but first what is behind this rise in cancer cases yes so thank thank you so much Ryan for the opportunity to be on and to raise public awareness about this uh issue so like you said while the overall number of coloral cases are declining due to improved screening the number of.
New cases of coloral cancer and young patients defined as 45 to 50s years old so you know you'd still be young Ryan um has actually been on the rise at about one to 2% each year such that colorl cancer in patients under 50 will be the leading cause of death in men and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in women under 50 so go oh go.
Ahead and so in terms of the causes we know that cancer can be caused by lifestyle choices like smoking for example with lung cancer by infections uh the human papiloma virus we see with uh cervical anal and throat cancers environmental can uh exposures like sun can cause melanoma in the case of colorl cancers hereditary syndromes account for.
About 30% of patients with early onset colorl Cancers and about one in three patients will have a first deegree relative with colorl cancer but the overall reason has sort of been unclear now chorl cancer in young people follows what's called The Birth Cohort effect so that compared to individuals born in the 1940s individuals born in the 199s have.
A four-fold higher risk of rectal cancer and a two-fold increase in the risk of colon cancer and this Ryan suggests that there might be something in the environment that's changing could this be um smoking consumption of red or processed Meats obesity consumption of sugar sweetened beverages we don't know what we do know Ryan is that exercise at.
A plant-based diet along with screening can reduce the risk of chorl cancer so with that said the screening for colon cancer used to be at 50 now it's 45 I mean should we be even lowering that age yeah so that's a really good question Ryan and my hope is is that as we have more non-invasive tests to detect colon cancer such as multi-targeted.
Stool-based DNA testing that more patients will be able to be screened earlier that's something that's the subject of extensive epidemiologic and clinical investigation so that we can show that earlier screening can have an impact in terms of earlier detection and diagnosis because we know that young patients with chorl cancer tend to.
Present with Advanced stage disease and might have to see multiple providers before they're correctly diagnosed and so what are the signs what are the symptoms of colon cancer especially in in the younger folks that's a great question Ryan and we want to raise awareness of this situation so colon cancer can present in three ways one is.
Symptoms from the tumor that are locally such as a change in bowel habits which is often times the most common symptom there may also be rectal bleeding in addition to the change of the bowel habits um you might have the sensation of a mass in the in in the colorl system or an iron deficiency anemia sometimes patients are discovered.
By routine screening or testing for something else and in the worst case patients may present in an emergency fashion with intestinal obstruction perforation or rarely GI bleeding and and I got got my colonoscopy uh last year uh explain to people that the process it sounds bad but it really isn't that bad yeah so so I I had my.
Colonoscopy when I was 45 um the you know the prep it's it's like having a little bit of food poisoning but you know the actual procedure yourself um they give you medicine and you wake up and it's like I I did not feel anything at all and I was back to work the next day the main thing especially in a young person you know if you're busy you have.
A career you you you know you do need someone to accompany you to the appointment and you do need to take time off work so I completely sympathize with with um you know how how it can be in a young person you know to get this screening because we know that young people might not have primary care physicians they might not be able to.
Take time off work and that's why I'm hopeful that new testing like say the cola guard or stool based DNA testing Can can assist well definitely take the time get tested it's not as bad as people think it but it does take some time so Dr Curtis Chong always good information uh with Stanford Health thanks for joining us thank you Brian so.
Much have a good day and thank you for raising awareness yeah thank you sir