White bold text sits on top of a checker-patterned royal blue background. The text reads "The signs of colorectal cancer can be no signs at all. Learn more." To the right of the text, there is a large blue ribbon signifying colorectal cancer awareness.

Colorectal cancer is affecting more younger people than ever. What can we do about it?

You may have seen more news coverage lately about colorectal cancer affecting younger people at an increasing rate. This is sounding some alarm bells in the medical community because we typically assume that cancer risk goes up with age and that people 65+ are most likely to be diagnosed. But, in the U.S. at least, this trend has been shifting.

Since the late 1990s, colorectal cancer diagnoses in people under 50 years old have risen—today, colorectal cancer is the deadliest form of cancer among men and the second deadliest form of cancer among women. Although experts don’t know what exactly is causing the uptick in these cases among younger adults, researchers have pinpointed several actions we can take today that will both help us stop colon cancer from developing and catch it early on. 

Below, we’ve rounded up a handful of MCC resources on this cancer type, including a general overview and prevention and screening tips developed by leading Masonic Cancer Center colorectal cancer experts like Dr. Emil Lou, as well as a local patient story. 

Colorectal Cancer Infographic

What is colorectal cancer? 

The term colorectal cancer describes all cases of cancer that start in the colon or rectum—it's one of the few cancer types for which we have accessible, validated, and approved methods of screening for finding the cancer early. Check out this infographic for a quick preview of preventative actions, common symptoms, screening recommendations, and treatment options. 

A man in a white t-shirt holds a royal blue ribbon signifying colorectal cancer awareness.

Talking colorectal cancer with U of M

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the U.S.? And people are getting diagnosed at earlier ages than ever before. One in five cases are in people 54 years or younger—an 11% increase from 1995. In this blog, MCC’s Dr. Lou answers questions on the symptoms, treatment, and screening for colorectal cancer

Bridgette O'Brien KARE11 interview with Jason Hackett

Dr. Emil Lou KARE 11 interview: "Cases of colorectal cancer on the rise among younger Americans" 

Dr. Lou speaks with Kare 11’s Jason Hackett about the rise of colorectal cancer in younger Americans and whether or not we’ll see changes in current screening guidelines, and Jason interviews Minnesotan Bridgette O’Brien, who was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer at the age of 34.  

Jecinta Scott colorectal cancer Fireside Chat recording screenshot

MCC Fireside Chat: Deep dive into colorectal cancer with Jecinta Scott from Exact Sciences

In this Fireside Chat hosted by MCC’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, Jecinta Scott joins MCC’s Amna Hussein for a conversation around colorectal cancer and an overview of screening guidelines. Watch the talk. And, make sure you sign up to be notified about future Fireside Chats! 

Emil Lou Fox 9 interview screenshot

"Screenings, screenings, screenings!" Fox 9 interview with Dr. Lou and local mom who lost her husband to colon cancer 

Dr. Lou talks with Fox 9’s Bisi Onile-Ere about the importance of early detection in colon cancer, and Bisi interviews Minnesotan Christi Andringa who lost her husband Rob to colon cancer. Rob, a father of three and celebrated Wisconsin Badgers Hockey player, was just 49 years old. At the time of his diagnosis, the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer had been age 50. Screening guidelines were updated in 2019 to recommend people 45-75 years old get checked with either a colonoscopy every 10 years or a stool test every 1-3 years. Talk to your doctor about the best test for you.