Colorectal cancer cases have increased in kids over the last 2 decades. Here’s what you need to know.

Research has shown that cases of colorectal cancer are increasingly occurring among young adults. Today, data shows that cases are also increasing among children.

A new analysis of 22 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a dramatic increase in colorectal cancers among children between 1999 and 2020. Researchers found that the rate of colorectal cancers increased by 500% among older children from 10 to 14 years old. during this period, 333% among adolescents aged 15 to 19 and 185% among young adults aged 20 to 24. The data will be presented during Digestive Disease Week later this month.

It is important to emphasize that the overall number of these cases is low. For example, in 2020, only 0.6 children aged 10 to 14 per 100,000 children were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, compared to 0.1 per 100,000 in 1999. Among adolescents, the number increased from 0, 3 to 1.3 per 100,000, and among young adults, cases have increased. from 0.7 to 2 per 100,000.

Still, doctors say these increases deserve attention. “These results are definitely alarming,” Dr. Tiago Biachi, a medical oncologist in the department of gastrointestinal oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, told Yahoo Life. Here’s what parents need to know.

It is not known why colorectal cancers are increasing among young people. However, Biachi says there are a few things to keep in mind.

“It is well known that the process of developing ‘non-hereditary’ colorectal cancer takes time and the usual interval between a polyp and cancer is five to ten years,” says Biachi. “This means that these children developing colorectal cancer were likely exposed to risk factors from a very young age.”

Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and medical director of the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, told Yahoo Life that lifestyle factors can play a role, including obesity and a diet high in processed foods. , leading a sedentary lifestyle and taking antibiotics that change a child’s gut microbiome. “Is something happening before birth? We just don’t know,” she says. “We’re going to have to follow that trend.”

But Dr. Jeffrey Hyams, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, tells Yahoo Life that it remains incredibly rare. “I’ve been practicing medicine for 40 years and I saw a case of colorectal cancer in a teenager,” he says. “I haven’t seen any cases in people who didn’t have any predisposing risk factors.” (Risk factors for colorectal cancer include inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, a family history of colorectal cancer, and hereditary syndromes like Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis, according to the American Cancer Society.)

Dr. Anton Bilchik, surgical oncologist, chief medical officer and director of the gastrointestinal and hepatobiliary program at Providence Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California, also emphasizes the rarity of this situation. “You have to interpret these figures with a lot of caution,” he explains to Yahoo Life. “You’re talking about a difference of one or two in a million.” Bilchik also says that “details about family history and other factors are important.”

“This is not a reason to start screening children with colonoscopy, but to discuss what is behind this phenomenon,” says Biachi.

The study found that the following symptoms were most common among colorectal cancer patients:

  • Changes in bowel habits accompanied by constipation or diarrhea.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Rectal bleeding.

  • Signs of iron deficiency anemia.

If your child has the symptoms listed above, it doesn’t automatically mean they have colorectal cancer, Hyams says — and it’s much more likely that the symptoms are caused by something else. Bilchik agrees. “Children often present with gastrointestinal symptoms,” he says. “This does not mean that every symptom is a sign of a disease.”

But Hyams says there are some things that should prompt you to have your child evaluated by a doctor. “If a child has persistent abdominal pain – for more than a month or two – loose stools with blood, anemia and weight loss, they should be examined,” he says.

Doctors typically perform tests such as stool tests, blood tests and abdominal X-rays before moving on to a larger procedure like a colonoscopy, Hyams says.

But Casillas recommends monitoring your child’s gut health and continuing to press for answers if something is wrong. “If your child is not doing better, that should motivate you to do more in terms of studying,” she says.

Bilchik also says the latest study’s results serve as a good reminder to adopt healthy habits as early as possible. “Start eating healthy from a young age, get plenty of physical activity from a young age,” he says.

However, doctors stress that parents should not panic about the results of this study. “Colorectal cancer is still incredibly rare in children,” says Bilchik.

News Source :
Gn Health

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