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Improving Diagnoses of Colorectal Cancer in Younger People

CHEOS scientist Dr. Mary de Vera

In May, Dr. Mary De Vera led an online panel with those who, like her, had been diagnosed and treated for young-onset colorectal cancer.

Each of them had a story to tell, but what stood out was their relative youth.

Dr. De Vera, who had organized the panel, was 36 at the time of her diagnosis. A few others had been in their 40s. Notably, one young man had been diagnosed at 20, and another at 19.

“It broke my heart,” says the scientist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS) housed within St. Paul’s Hospital. “They were incredible and open and sharing.”

Colorectal cancer the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in Canada

Colorectal cancer survivors — or thrivers, as Dr. De Vera prefers to call them, and herself — under age 50 are seen as anomalies at a time when general screening programs for the disease target Canadians aged 50 to 74.

As the third-leading cause of cancer death in Canada, colorectal cancer has long been considered a disease of middle age. As Canada marks National Cancer Wellness Awareness Day on June 26, the good news is that screening programs have led to a significant decrease in the incidence of the disease, and if it’s detected early, it’s highly treatable.

But recent research shows that, for reasons not fully understood, young and middle-aged people are facing sharp increases in colorectal cancer diagnoses. In fact, colon or rectal cancer before age 50 is expected to double by the year 2030.

The findings could mean that with today’s 50-plus age threshold for screening, colorectal cancer in a younger person may be detected only once the disease has reached an advanced stage. 


Find out more and read the full article here at The Daily Scan | Improving Diagnoses of Colorectal Cancer in Younger People