Rising Incidence of Colorectal Cancer in Children Noted Over Past Two Decades: Essential Insights

Investigations reveal a growing trend of colorectal cancer in younger populations, with newer evidence indicating an uptick in pediatric cases.

A recent study spanning 22 years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates significant surges in colorectal cancers in children between 1999 and 2020. The increase was most dramatic at 500% for children aged 10 to 14, followed by a 333% increase in adolescents aged 15 to 19 and a 185% rise in young adults aged 20 to 24. These findings will be shared at Digestive Disease Week in the forthcoming weeks.

Though it’s crucial to acknowledge that these instances remain uncommon overall. For instance, in 2020, only about 0.6 children per 100,000 within the 10 to 14 age group were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, compared to 0.1 per 100,000 in 1999. In teens, the statistic rose from 0.3 to 1.3 per 100,000, and among young adults, from 0.7 to 2 per 100,000.

Healthcare professionals underscore the significance of these elevations. “These developments are certainly concerning,” remarks Dr. Tiago Biachi, a gastrointestinal oncology specialist at Moffitt Cancer Center, in a discussion with Yahoo Life. Here are essential pointers for parents.

The exact reasons behind the rising numbers of young individuals with colorectal cancer remain uncertain. However, Biachi notes several key considerations.

“We recognize that the journey a cell undergoes transforming from a ‘non-inherited’ polyp into an invasive cancer spans years, typically a five to 10-year trajectory,” explains Biachi. “Hence, these children developing colorectal cancer must have been subjected to contributing factors from a very tender age.”

Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist and clinical director at the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, conveys to Yahoo Life that lifestyle may have an influence. This includes factors such as obesity, high consumption of processed food, lack of physical activity and antibiotic use altering the gut’s microbiota. “Could there be prenatal contributing factors? The answer isn’t clear yet,” she states. “We need to monitor these trends closely.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Jeffrey Hyams, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, reassures Yahoo Life of its rarity, noting his own limited encounters despite decades of practice. (Several known risk factors exist for colorectal cancer, including ailments such as inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, a familial predisposition to colorectal cancers, and genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis, as per the American Cancer Society.)

Dr. Anton Bilchik, surgical oncologist and chief of medicine at Providence Saint John’s Cancer Institute, also calls attention to the scarcity of such diagnoses, advising a cautious interpretation of these statistics. Moreover, he highlights that comprehensive familial history and additional contributors must be considered.

“This recent discovery should not lead to immediate screening of children through colonoscopy but should prompt discussions on the underlying phenomena,” Biachi advises.

The survey identified the following signs as the most frequently reported by pediatric colorectal cancer patients:

  • Variations in bowel regularity, manifesting as constipation or diarrhea.

  • Gastrointestinal pain.

  • Bleeding from the rectum.

  • Manifestations of iron deficiency anemia.

Presence of the aforestated symptoms does not universally suggest colorectal cancer, as emphasized by Hyams — it is far more probable that another condition is the cause. Bilchok concurs. “Gastrointestinal discomfort is a common complaint among youngsters,” he asserts. “Yet, not every sensation signifies illness.”

However, Hyams proposes certain concerns that should prompt professional medical evaluation. “Any notion of sustained discomfort across several months — be it abdominal pain, loose stools that include blood, anemia, or weight reduction in a child — deserves a closer look,” he stresses.

Initial assessments can include stool analyses, bloodwork, and abdominal radiography before proceeding to more invasive methods such as colonoscopy, according to Hyams.

But Casillas urges parents to be vigilant about their children’s digestive wellness and to insist on further investigations if symptoms persist. “Lack of improvement in your child’s condition should escalate to more extensive diagnostics,” she asserts.

Bilchik also uses the findings of the latest research as a prompt to encourage early initiation of healthful routines. “Adopt healthy dietary habits early and engage in physical activity from a young age,” he suggests.

Nonetheless, physicians reiterate that parents should not be unduly alarmed by these findings. “It can’t be stressed enough how extraordinarily rare colorectal cancer is in children,” adds Bilchik.

Check Also

Security ideas for fogeys whose youngsters just like the style of drugs

“How do I get my youngsters to take drugs?” is likely one of the commonest …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *