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Early colon cancer: these symptoms are linked to a higher risk in those under 50, according to a study

  • May 30, 2024
  • 5 Min
  • 10

It is a cancer that appears earlier and earlier: Colon Cancer. Indeed, in the United States, the forecasts published last January in the Cancer Journal for Clinicians estimated that colorectal cancer could be the leading cause of death among people under the age of 50 affected by cancer.

Concerning France, Santé Publique France notes, in its epidemiological bulletin analyzing the period from 1990 to 2023, an increase “moderate” of the incidence of this cancer. It should be noted that this is one of the most common cancers in France. In 2018, the cancer colorectal, also called “colon rectum cancer”, affected 43,336 new patients. The question of a early detection is therefore essential.

Abdominal pain, hematochezia… These symptoms are linked to a higher risk of early colon cancer

It is to help fight against this evil that researchers from the University of California, in the United States, looked into the signs that could alert to the occurrence of early colorectal cancer, i.e. before 50 years. To do this, the researchers conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis, that is, they analyzed data from previous research studies on the symptoms and the time before a diagnosis of colorectal cancer in patients under 50 years old. In total, this included 81 studies and more than 24.9 million patients. Their results are published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers then noticed that almost half of the patients presented with hematochezia (bleeding from the anus), as well as abdominal pain. A quarter presented altered bowel habits. Experts have noticed other symptoms whose appearance varies depending on the region of the world, namely diarrhea and the loss of appetite. On average, the diagnosis time was 4 to 6 months.

Researchers call for adapting clinical practice to take these warning signals into account

“These findings and the increasing risk of early colon cancer in people under the age of 50 highlight the urgent need to educate clinicians and patients about these signs and symptoms to ensure that diagnosis and management are not not delayed”, the researchers note in their conclusions. Researchers call on healthcare professionals to adapt current clinical practice to identify and treat these warning signs.

It should be noted that not having these symptoms does not exempt people aged 50 to 74 from getting tested. Indeed, “this cancer most often progresses without symptoms or perceptible signs at first”notes Health Insurance which recalls that “nearly 95% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed after the age of 50, in both men and women”.

Sources :

  • Red Flag Signs and Symptoms for Patients With Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer – JAMA Network Open
  • Health Insurance – Organized screening for colorectal cancer: a simple and painless test
author avatar
Louis Tardy