November 21, 2014 – More Screening


Anchor lead:  What can be done about an increase in colon cancer in younger people? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Colorectal cancer rates appear to be poised for a rise after falling for some time, a recent study projects. Even more distressing is the fact that this rise is taking place among those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, not a group who normally undergo screening.  Patrick Okolo, a colon cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says new molecular tests for the disease couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

Okolo: Tests become better in their performance as both the prevalence and the incidence go up. So we should expect that these tests will be very helpful . It’s good that they’re coming at a time when we’re seeing this disturbing trend because we’re going to need to use more tools, and have tools that are more  available to a wider swath of the population as the younger population becomes the major consumers of healthcare.   :21

Okolo says it seems clear that some type of environmental exposure is involved in this rise, most likely dietary in nature.  He says increased rates of diabetes and obesity likely also play a role, as may sedentary lifestyle, and points out that these risk factors are modifiable.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.