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MONDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Despite a steady decline in colorectal cancer rates in the United States in the past two decades, new research indicates that the disease is actually on the upswing among people younger than 50.
The analysis suggests that the well-established drop in new diagnoses -- now running annually at 2.8 percent and 2.2 percent among American men and women, respectively -- is mainly confined to people older than 50. That is the age at which various forms of routine disease screening -- such as a colonoscopy -- are initially recommended to identify and remove problematic polyps.
"In recent years, we've been thinking we've been doing pretty well because colorectal cancer incidence has been declining overall," said the study's lead author Rebecca L. Siegel, a manager of surveillance information in the department of surveillance and health policy research at the American Cancer Society. "But we found that when you look at young adults, the rates are increasing fairly rapidly -- in great contrast to what's going on in the older population."
To get a handle on the trends, Siegel and her team reviewed data on about 11,000 men and 9,800 women younger than 50 that was gleaned from 13 U.S. cancer registries that tracked information from 1992 through 2005.
During this time, the researchers found, colorectal cancer rates increased 1.5 percent a year among men younger than 50 and 1.6 percent a year among women younger than 50.
Specifically, among non-Hispanic white adults, the research team noted that much of the increase was attributable to a rise in rectal cancer rates. During the study period, rectal cancer increased by an average of 3.5 percent a year among men and 2.9 percent a year among women, the study found.
The researchers also found that incident rate increases for colorectal cancer had edged up
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