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Colorectal Cancer Increasing in Younger People

Colorectal cancer is something that is typically thought to be an issue that only people aged 50 or older should worry about. While there has been a drop in the rate of new colon and rectal cancer diagnoses in those aged 50+, incidence rates are increasing for those under 50. Traditionally, routine colonoscopies are scheduled after the age of 50, but screening standards may soon change. 

Colon cancer screening in Tacoma, WAThe Stats

The rates of new cases and deaths from colon and rectal cancer are increasing in younger Americans. Incidence rates rose by 22 percent between 2000 and 2013 and mortality rates grew by 13 percent between 2000 and 2014. A NIH study found that among patients diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer under 50, many were diagnosed with an already advanced stage of the cancer.

Why is This Happening?

While the actual cause of the increase of incidence is unclear, it is suggested that the increased number of advanced cases is due to lack of awareness and screenings among younger age groups. In addition, younger people tend to ignore warning signs and not seek a medical opinion.

Even in the medical community, colon and rectal cancer can be overlooked since it is not typical of someone under 40 to be affected. Many of the symptoms that may indicate the presence of colon or rectal cancer can be confused with many other causes such as hemorrhoids. 

Important Warning Signs

While it’s not common for young people to have colorectal cancer, the increase in incidence of advanced-stage diagnoses should motivate those 50 and under to take notice of important symptoms. The most common indications of colorectal cancer include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark or bloody bowel movements
  • Weakness, fatigue and stomach pain
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits – diarrhea or constipation that lasts a few days. 

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

There are three things that you can do right now to protect yourself against colorectal cancer. 

Start Living A Healthier Lifestyle

It may sound obvious, but improving your diet and becoming more active is the single most effective thing you can do for your overall health. Eating foods that are high in fiber and avoiding processed foods will help lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

Know Your Family History

If anyone in your family has had colon or rectal cancer or has had precancerous polyps removed, you should begin your screenings at least 10 years earlier than normal, around age 40. Even if it’s a distant relative, talk with your doctor about a plan for your screenings.

Know What is Normal for Your Body

You know your body better than anyone else. If you begin to notice changes that worry you, document them. If you suddenly begin to feel constipated or you have frequent diarrhea, keep notes of the dates and frequency of these occurrences. If you’re concerned about any of these changes, don’t be afraid to talk with a physician. 

Consult With a Colorectal Cancer Specialist in Tacoma, WA

If you have any questions about your colorectal health or if you want to schedule an appointment in the Tacoma, WA area, please call Northwest Medical Specialties, PLLC at (253) 428-8700



HEALTH ALERT! For the safety of our patients and staff only patients will be allowed into our clinics and everyone MUST wear a mask. See additional information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


November 16, 2020 Update

During these difficult times we are making every effort to keep our patients and staff safe from COVID 19, we appreciate your patience and understanding with the changes you may have seen within our practice.

We strive to protect our patients and staff as much as we possibly can from any exposure on our premises.  NWMS has implemented a system wide policy that does not allow anyone in the building that is not a patient and everyone must wear an NWMS provided mask over their mouth and nose during their time on our premises.  This is to protect our vulnerable patients from the unforeseen possibility of exposure to COVID 19 which can be transmitted through aerosol droplets.  Sadly, we have had patients that have died from the complications of COVID 19, which is both devastating and preventable.

We offer a virtual visit option for family, friends, and companions to participate in the care of our patients through Zoom.  Our staff will assist you with every step of the login process and invite you to participate in real time from your vehicle or designated safe space in our building. Please contact us at 253-428-8700 to set this up.

The following offices are temporarily closed:

  • Bonney Lake
  • Federal Way

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (253) 428-8700.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization

Centers for Disease Control