The Head of Surgery at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte-Metta, Dr. Biodun Adeyanju, has expressed concern about the rising cases of colon cancer in young people.
He said that while cancer often occurs in older persons, there are increasingly reported cases of color cancer among young people.
According to Mayo Clinic, colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract.
The clinic further explained that while the health condition typically affects older adults, it can happen at any age, adding that it usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.
Speaking with our correspondent, Dr. Adeyanju said, “Cancers generally occur with increasing age. It’s commoner in the older age group.
“However, there’s an increasing incidence in the younger age group. Why it is becoming more common in the younger age group is a subject of debate and scientific studies. It is generally not known. However, some have ascribed it to genetics, heredity, dietary and environmental factors.
“It’s been observed to be commoner in men. However, colon cancers in some sites in the colon are commoner in women”.
He stressed that getting screened early for the condition is crucial to preventing complications.
“Screening is important in the prevention of colon cancer and indeed all cancers. Colonoscopy is an important screening investigation, especially at above the age of 40 years, and more so in patients with a family history of colon cancer and indeed other cancers.
“Also, some complaints we trivialise should be taken more seriously. These complaints include vague abdominal pain and passage of blood in the stool. These must be investigated by qualified medical personnel. It can also be hereditary.
“Creating awareness should be a deliberate government programme. Facilities should be made available, affordable, and accessible for all. Awareness campaigns should be intense on TV, Radio, and social media. Screening could be made mandatory by the government. Training of more specialists is important to the establishment of more cancer screening and treatment centres. Cancer screening and treatment should be fully under NHIS fully. People should not have to pay for screening and treatment out of pocket”
According to a study published online by the National Cancer Institute (2020), experts don’t often know what’s causing the jump in colorectal cancer among young adults.
The study, however, states that experts know some factors that raise the risk of colorectal cancer in older adults. This includes obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking.
“Some of those [risk factors] have become more common over the last 45 years, along with this rise in early-onset cases,” said Daschner, who helped plan the think tank.
So, some of the same factors may be responsible for the rise of early-onset disease, he noted.
Another study published online by Yale Medicine stated that a sedentary lifestyle, overweight and obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, low-fiber, high-fat diets or diets high in processed meats, and other environmental factors have all been associated with the disease.
Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, and conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease are also risk factors, the study says.
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