Too young for bowel cancer?

23rd October 2018

Although bowel cancer is a disease that becomes more common in patients who are older, it is still possible to for the disease to develop in younger patients.

Specialist viewpoint:

GatewayC’s ‘Colorectal Cancer – Early Diagnosis’ course introduces Simon, a patient experiencing abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, who is only 38 years old. Should he be considered as at risk? GatewayC’s Cancer Lead GP, Dr. Sarah Taylor, discusses the significance of age in a bowel cancer diagnosis with Mr. Malcolm Wilson, Colorectal Oncology Surgeon at The Christie.

What does Cancer Research UK say about age and bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is more common in older people. Almost 6 in 10 bowel cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 or over.

Having said this, bowel cancer risk is increased if a patient has a first degree relative diagnosed with bowel cancer. A first degree relative is a parent, brother or sister, son or daughter. The risk is increased further if a patient has more than one relative diagnosed with bowel cancer or a patient has a first degree relative diagnosed at a young age, for example, under the age of 45 years old.*

Cancer Key:

The age of the patient can lead symptoms to be dismissed because colorectal cancer is not common in younger patients. Asking about a positive family history of cancer can help to clarify a patient’s risk factor.

Find out more:

Access GatewayC’s ‘Colorectal Cancer – Early Diagnosis’ course here.

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* Information from Cancer Research UK – bowel cancer risks and causes. See link here.

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