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Rectal cancer rising in young adults

Category: Colon

Colorectal cancer testing may benefit younger individuals than previously thought, as a new study has found that rectal cancer in adults under age 40 has increased during the last several decades, despite a drop in nearly all other forms of cancer during the same period.

Most medical professionals have assumed that colorectal cancer is a disease that mainly affects older adults. However, in their analysis of medical records dating back to 1973, researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital found that rates of rectal cancer in individuals younger than 40 have been increasing by 3.8 percent per year since 1984.

Joshua Meyer, who led the investigation, said that younger adults should be aware of these findings and seek cancer testing if they are presented with any of the common signs of rectal cancer.

"We suggest that in young people presenting with rectal bleeding or other common signs of rectal cancer, endoscopic evaluation should be considered in order to rule out a malignancy," he said. "This is in contrast to what is frequently done, which is to attribute these findings to hemorrhoids."

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