U.S. Rectal Cancer Increasing in Young

Rectal cancer rates are increasing in people age 40 and under across races and in both sexes, U.S. researchers said.

Study leader Dr. Joshua Meyer, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, analyzed trends in U.S. rectal cancer compared with colon cancer trends. Dr. Meyer worked on the study while at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

Using data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results cancer registry, the researchers identified 7,661 colon and rectal cancer patients age 40 and under between 1973 and 2005.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, finds overall rates of colon cancer and rectal cancer were low during the study — 1.11 cases per 100,000 for colon cancer and 0.42 cases per 100,000 for rectal cancer.

Colon cancer rates remained essentially flat in people age 40 and under in recent decades but rectal cancer rates from 1984 to 2005, rose 3.8 percent per year.

“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,” Meyer said in a statement. “This is in contrast to what is frequently done, which is to attribute these findings to hemorrhoids.”