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14:00 PM

ABC6: Colorectal cancer cases up for people under 50

Researchers from the American Cancer Society say that there has been an appalling rise in the number of colon and rectal cancer cases in people younger than 50 years old. And what is even more frightening is the fact that no one knows why.

Bruce Kerner, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon with OhioHealth Colon and Rectal Surgeons told ABC6 reporter, Terri Sullivan, that while the number of colorectal cancer cases in younger patients is increasing by 20 percent or more in the U.S., the number of colorectal cancer cases in people over the age of 50 is on a decline.

"It is quite surprising that everything else we've done for colorectal cancer has changed the disease and the survival (rate)," Kerner told ABC6. "You would have thought it would've been across the board, and not just in the older patients. So, it's quite surprising and quite disturbing."

According to a study done by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, a person born in 1990 has twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer than someone who was born in 1950.

The most common symptoms of colorectal cancer are changes in bowel habits and weight loss. Kerner says researchers think diet and lifestyle could play a role in this shocking statistic for millennials. Though a significant issue is with screenings. Kerner told ABC6 that the screening criteria may need to change, but right now it is only recommended for people 50 and older to have routine screenings in the U.S. Because of this, any cancer that is found in younger patients, tends to be in a more advanced stage.

When 33-year-old, Brett Miller, was having symptoms, he was screened and diagnosed with stage two colon cancer. Ten days later, he had surgery followed up by six months of chemotherapy.

Miller gives advice to people to learn from his story and to always pay attention to your health.

"If something does feel wrong, definitely go and look into it and see if it's something that needs more attention," Miller told ABC6.