A new Australian study has found the rates of bowel cancer in people under 50 continue to rise, supporting Bowel Cancer Australia’s Never2Young campaign to lower the screening age from 50 to 45.
Published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery (June 8 2020), the Gold Coast study found growing evidence of increasing rates of bowel cancer in people under age 50 after reviewing 557 patients who received a colonoscopy between 2013 and 2017.
The study noted bowel cancer was estimated to be the leading cause of cancer death in young males (30– 34 years) and females (25-34 years) in 2019, which led the authors to question if current screening guidelines (50-74) may need to be reconsidered and introduced to younger populations.
Colorectal surgeon and Bowel Cancer Australia Director, Associate Professor Graham Newstead AM said: “A lower start-age for bowel cancer screening could be part of the solution, along with improved symptom awareness among both patients and GPs.
“Over 1,500 bowel cancer cases occur in people under age 50 each year, so we need to be bold and begin screening those between 45-49 while also increasing screening participation rates for those over 50.”
The study found 21.5 per cent of colonoscopies performed on patients under 50 identified pathology (adenomas); and 1.9 per cent were diagnosed with bowel cancer. All patients diagnosed with bowel cancer experienced symptoms, having stage 3 (36.4 per cent) or 4 (45.5 per cent) cancer at diagnosis.
Bowel cancer is Australia’s second deadliest cancer. 108 people die every week from the disease.