More young people dying of colorectal cancer and researchers don't know why

Drop in death rates Among black individuals mortality declined throughout the study period

According to a recent study by the American Cancer Society, there was an overwhelming increase in colon cancer from 1970 to 2014, and it'affecting those who are young and white, Yahoo reports. Conversely, rates declined in black individuals in every age group.

These findings are consistent with an increase in the number of whites getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but not blacks.

Dr. Andrew Chan, of Harvard Medical School, said some health officials have attributed the upswing in colon cancer to obesity - a risk factor for the disease.

Researchers said the increase colorectal cancer deaths in people in their 50s was particularly unexpected since screening - which can both prevent colon cancer and detect it early - has been recommended starting at age 50 for decades.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include pain in the abdomen, bloody stool, constipation, weight loss, and change in bowel patterns.

A new report finds that colorectal cancer mortality rates have increased in adults under 55 since the mid-2000s after falling for decades, strengthening evidence that previously reported increases in incidence in this age group are not exclusively the result of more screening.

Siegel, however, thinks the results should be considered in the American Cancer Society's ongoing review of its screening guidelines.

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It shows colon cancer deaths are on the rise among younger adults and no one knows why.

The data, which encompass nearly 250,000 people, come from the National Center for Health Statistics and information it collects from death certificates.

They focused on people aged 20 to 54 from 1970 through 2014, and specifically on 242,000 colon cancer deaths in that age group.

For blacks, the rate of mortality declined steadily from 8.1 percent in 1970 to 6.1 percent in 2014.

Previous studies haven't examined these younger people, Siegel said.

Whites in their 40s saw deaths from colon cancer jump nearly 2 percent annually from 2005 to 2014. After 2004, death rates began to increase slightly each year, reaching 4.3 per 100,000 in 2014. No change was noted for whites in their 20s.

"This indicates that the increase in incidence is not exclusively due to more colonoscopy use and increased detection, but a true increase in disease occurrence that is of sufficient magnitude to outweigh improvements in survival that have occurred in all age groups because of better treatment", Siegel said. "If you have declining death rates for cancer, it's always a good thing". "The unknown mechanism behind the increase in colorectal cancer in whites makes it that much more concerning".

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