GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - New studies released this week show rates of colon and rectal cancer are rising sharply among both millennials and Generation X.
The American Cancer Society reports people in their 20s and 30s have double the risk for colorectal cancers as their parents' generation, when they were at the same age.
"It's much more common as you get older, but there are young people, even in their 20s and 30s, who get colon cancer," said Dr. Edward Greeno, Executive Medical Director of University of Minnesota Health Cancer Care. "What this new study confirmed is that the numbers of those cases are going up, they're going up in relative terms quite a bit."
Dr. Greeno says colon cancer is largely related to diet and lifestyle. That means people who have diets that are low in fiber or high in fat, or who don't get enough exercise, are at a higher risk for colon cancer.
The standard recommendation for colon cancer screenings currently starts at age 50. Dr. Greeno says the new data may prompt doctors to consider whether it's time to change those guidelines.
"What it does mean is someone in their 20s and 30s who has symptoms that might be from colon cancer, the prime one being bleeding in the stools, shouldn't ignore those symptoms, they should talk to their doctor about it, because you can get colon cancer," Dr. Greeno said.