I'm under 50, do I have to worry about colorectal cancer?

March 28, 2014

Colorectal cancer typically appears in people who are in their 50s and 60s, says Dr. Michael Stamos, chairman of UC Irvine Health Department of Surgery and president of the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons.

However, 13,500 people under the age of 50 are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year.  

“We are seeing more and more cases under 50 and we’re not sure why,” Stamos says.

The primary risk for someone under 50 is whether or not they have a family history of colorectal cancer.

“Generally, we recommend that a person undergo their first colonoscopy at age 50,” says Dr. Kenneth Chang, chief of gastroenterology for UC Irvine Health and executive director of the H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center. “However, if both sides of the family have had a colorectal cancer, you should consider getting one earlier.”

Colon cancer in a first degree relative – a mother, father or sibling – may significantly increase your risk, he says. 

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and UC Irvine Health wants to improve your chances of living a long and healthy life – know your risks and get checked out. Beat colorectal cancer before it beats you.

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