Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer on the Rise
Colorectal cancer, commonly referred to as bowel cancer or simply colon cancer, is an abnormal growth of cells in the large intestine, which includes the colon and the rectum. It is currently the third leading form of cancer diagnosed in the world. In fact, there were approximately 1.8 million new cases of colorectal cancer in 2018 alone. While the prevalence of colon cancer has remained at current rates or begun to decrease in many high-income countries, due in large part to advancements in screening, a recent study found that early-onset colorectal cancer is actually rising in numbers in many countries.
Regardless of the way in which colorectal cancer arises, doctors must remain viligant in order to diagnose this dangerous disease in its earliest stages. When a doctor fails to do so and colon cancer is present, they quite literally put a patient’s life at risk. If you have legal questions regarding colorectal cancer that went undiagnosed or persisted without diagnosis in New Jersey, contact our team of medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group at (973)-435-4551 for immediate assistance.
How does Colorectal Cancer Occur?
Colorectal cancer affects the lowest region of the digestive system, which encompasses the colon and the last six inches of the colon, known as the rectum. This disease typically begins when abnormal cells, known as polyps, begin to develop on the inner lining of the large intestine. Certain polyps will exist in the colon or the rectum for years and never become cancer, while others may transform into cancer over time. Polyps that may develop into cancer are known as adenomas, while hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps typically do not develop into cancer.
If a polyp becomes cancerous, it may spread into the layers of the wall of the colon or rectum. Further spreading occurs when cancer cells begin to develop in the blood vessels or lymph vessels, which allows them to be transported into other parts of the body. As this process occurs, colorectal cancer transitions from earlier stages to later stages, where it becomes more deadly and difficult to treat.
How Common is Colorectal Cancer?
Researchers recently delved further into the available data regarding colorectal cancer to better understand its prevalence worldwide. While there has been a significant decline in colon cancer rates among older adults in the United States and several other countries, little research has focused specifically on early-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) across the world. A recent American Cancer Society study, published in the medical journal Gut, sought to fill this whole in current knowledge.
Investigators led by Rebecca Siegel, MPH studied the incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer in under-50 populations versus 50 and older populations. They analyzed data on colorectal cancer cases in 43 countries, located on six different continents, using data from the 36 countries where there were enough cases to adequately draw conclusions. Ultimately, the study found that early-onset colon cancer decreased in only three countries. In contrast, it stabilized in 14 countries and actually increased in 19.
In nine of the countries where young-onset CRC increased, the increase occurred alongside stark decreases or stable rates of colon cancer in people ages 50 and older. In the majority of these nations, the rising rates have continued since the middle of the 1990’s. This means that colorectal cancer occurred more frequently solely in young adults in these nine countries, including the United States.
How do Doctors Find Colon Cancer?
Diagnosing colorectal cancer as soon as possible is absolutely critical for effective treatment of this life-threatening disease. Fortunately, screening tests are available and highly useful for detecting abnormal cell growth in the colon. Colonoscopy is the primary screening test used to detect colon cancer. This diagnostic tool allows physicians to identify potentially cancerous growths and further diagnose colon cancer in its earlier stages.
What can be Done to Diagnose Bowel Cancer as Soon as Possible?
Researchers found that declining rates of colon cancer in older adults were partially due to the rise in screening, which typically occurs between 50 and 60-years old. In contrast, two of the three countries where early-onset colon cancer decreased have implemented screening tests for those 40 and 45-years-old. In other words, the sooner individuals undergo colon cancer screening, the higher the likelihood that they will be diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage.
With the increasing trends in early-onset CRC, researchers warn that the medical community needs to respond in order to prevent early illness and death from colon cancer among younger populations. To accomplish this, doctors can become more proactive in discussing family history of cancer among younger patients, follow-up in a timely manner about possible signs and symptoms in any patient (age notwithstanding), and take action to conduct screening when it may be necessary.
What if a Doctor Fails to Detect Colon Cancer in NJ?
Overall, it is a physician’s responsibility to conduct a thorough medical history and physical exam, ask questions about changes in health and well-being, fully document and further investigate symptoms that may indicate an underlying issue, and take timely action to provide referrals and treatment. Inadequate care with regard to colorectal cause may provide justification for a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim in New Jersey.
The New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group have successfully recovered substantial compensation on behalf of clients who suffered harm due to cancer misdiagnosis and other forms of medical negligence. We are dedicated to assisting you if you or a loved one experienced injury as a result of colon cancer misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose colon cancer. If you suspect you may have a case or have questions about your legal options, contact us today at (973)-435-4551 for the help you need. Our attorneys will review your case free of charge and discuss your potential eligibility for compensation.
- Global patterns and trends in colorectal cancer incidence in young adults, Gut, BMJ Journals
- Global analysis finds early onset colorectal cancer rising in many high-income countries, ScienceDaily
- What Is Colorectal Cancer?, American Cancer Society