More young adults in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. These two cancers, which differ only in the location they start from, have long been associated with older people. In 1989, for example, the median age of colorectal cancer patients was 72. In 2016, though, it had dropped to 66 with many of the patients being 50 or younger.

Colorectal cancer the third most common cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men, behind lung and prostate cancer, and among women as well, behind lung and breast cancer. Around 53,200 people are expected to die from colorectal cancer in 2020, and 7% will likely be under the age of 50. In addition, 2020 is estimated to see 147,950 newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer. An alarming 17,930 of these cases, or 12%, will likely involve people under 50.

Possible factors

The incidence rate is actually going down for older people. From 2008 to 2017, the fatality rate declined 3% annually for those 65 and older whereas it grew 1.3% annually for those under 50. People are affected differently depending on race with Alaska Natives dying at three times the rate of whites and double the rate of Black patients. Researchers think that diet plays a role in the trend.

For those who have their cancer misdiagnosed

Some doctors may not diagnose colorectal cancer in younger patients because of certain assumptions. Whatever their error may have been, victims of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis may have a case under medical malpractice law. To see how strong of a case you have, you may want to consult with an attorney. The attorney may be able to have the case investigated, request an inquiry with the local medical board, negotiate for a settlement and more.