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Although new cases of early-onset colorectal cancer has been rising since the mid-1990s, colorectal cancer is still relatively rare in young adults. Less than 1.5 percent of all colorectal cancer diagnoses occur in individuals under the age of 34; this type of cancer is still much more of a concern for adults 45 years of age and older. When colorectal cancers do develop in adolescents and young adults, the underlying cause can be a hereditary syndrome, such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC).

Know the warning signs of early-onset colon cancer 

A study has identified four commonly reported signs in the period of three months to two years for people who developed colorectal cancer. Those signs are:

  • abdominal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • iron deficiency anemia

The Right Diagnosis. Right Away.

If you've received an abnormal test result that could indicate cancer, request an appointment with our Gastrointestinal Oncology team today. Moffitt's diagnostic experts will perform the tests needed to diagnose or rule out cancer so you can know for sure. 

Moffitt has the highest quality imaging technology and uses the least invasive testing procedures to give you accurate results. 

Request an appointment

If you are experiencing symptoms that might indicate colorectal cancer, please talk to your primary care physician to discuss your risks and testing options.

Because colorectal cancers are so seldom diagnosed in young men and women, few oncologists who specialize in these malignancies have experience in treating patients in the under-39 age group. The surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center treat a high volume of young patients and have the experience necessary to tailor their treatment plans to their specific needs. For instance, our team can:

  • Recommend specific chemotherapy drugs based on their ability to destroy colorectal cancer cells without affecting the ovaries (for women) or gonads (for men)
  • Design targeted radiation therapy plans that minimize unnecessary radiation exposure to the reproductive organs
  • Provide social, emotional and psychological counseling for young adults who are balancing cancer treatment with work, school and family matters
  • Perform colorectal cancer screenings for young adults who have been identified as having an elevated risk of colorectal cancer due to an inherited syndrome or genetic abnormality

Patients who are facing a colorectal cancer diagnosis early in life may also benefit from our extensive schedule of peer-to-peer activities, including patient and caregiver support groups and casual recreational programs. We are the only cancer center in Florida with a dedicated space for adolescent and young adult patients, and our Adolescent and Young Adult Program welcomes patients between the ages of 15 and 39.

Know when to get screened for colon cancer

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all adults ages 45 to 75 receive regular colorectal cancer screenings. Those at increased risk of colon cancer should receive screenings earlier than age 45. This includes individuals that:

  • Have a first degree relation to someone diagnosed with colorectal cancer. For these individuals it is recommended that screening begin at an age 10 years prior to the relative's age when they were diagnosed. For example, if your father was diagnosed at age 50 with colorectal cancer, you should begin screenings at age 40.
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Have been diagnosed with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome

If you are at increased risk, speak to your doctor about when you should begin colon cancer screenings and which test is the right option for you.

Referrals are not required to seek colorectal cancer treatment at Moffitt. To learn more about our approach to treating colorectal cancer in young adults, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.