Mortality Rate of Colorectal Cancer Increasing Among Whites Under 55

Microscopic picture of colon cancer [Convit / Shutterstock]
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The rate of colorectal cancer among white adults aged 20-54 is on the rise, according to new research.  And even though the colorectal cancer mortality rate is falling overall, it’s rising among adults in this age group. 

Dr. Alok Khorana is an oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic.  Speaking on the WVIZ/PBS show “ideas,” he says researchers don’t know why the rates are worsening but one possibility is obesity.

“And so if obesity starts early then the bad side effects of obesity which do include cancer can also start early.  So we think that’s also part of the explanation but obesity rates are similar among blacks and whites so why the mortality rate would go up amongst whites but not amongst blacks is mysterious.”

Doctors usually don’t begin screening for colorectal cancer until patients reach age 50.  Khorana recommends that people with a family history should be screened earlier.

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