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Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Colon Cancer Facts and Stats


You're Never Too Young for Colon Cancer

Provided courtesy of

Colon Cancer Alliance Logo


Colon cancer has become a reality for many people younger than age 50, and it's the only population where incidence rates are on the rise. The Colon Cancer Alliance joined with a group of renowned researchers to outline the data and get hard facts about this issue.

Here's what we found:

  • In the U.S., approximately 10% of colon cancer cases are diagnosed in individuals under age 50.
  • Colon cancer incidence and mortality rates are increasing in the under 50 population (young-onset), while decreasing in those over 50.
  • Young-onset rectal cancer incidence has increased at nearly twice the rate of young-onset colon cancer.
  • Young-onset has a preference for the distal colon (the segment of your colon right before the rectum begins) or rectum and often presents at an advanced stage.
  • Screening is recommended to start earlier than age 50 in those with a family history of colon cancer or advanced adenomas (noncancerous tumors), and in those with hereditary genetic syndromes associated with increased risk. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions increasing risk may also benefit from close follow-up.
  • Individuals under 50 who have symptoms that may be consistent with colon cancer need to seek medical attention so the appropriate testing can be done and deserve a prompt and thorough examination.
  • Physician-related delays (e.g., missed symptoms, initial misdiagnosis) have been estimated to occur in 15-50% of young-onset colon cancer cases.
  • Discussions of lowering the screening age for the average-risk population have begun. As it stands, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) feels there is insufficient evidence for lowering the screening age to 40 years in the average-risk population.

Want to learn more about young-onset colorectal cancer, visit


The Colon Cancer Alliance’s mission is to knock colon cancer out of the top three cancer killers. This mission is being accomplished by championing prevention, funding cutting-edge research and providing the highest quality patient support services. Learn more at


Published March 3, 2014


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