Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

The number of people under the age of 50 being diagnosed with early-onset colorectal cancer is growing. This makes it even more crucial to spot any warning signs as soon as possible. Spotting the signs early can make a big difference in treatment and recovery.

A recent study has identified four main symptoms that might act as early indicators for early onset colorectal cancer. Here, we look at these key symptoms that should be acted on for a faster diagnosis and early life-saving treatment.

Signs and symptoms of early-onset colorectal cancer revealed

A recent study carried out by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, has revealed four main signs of early-onset colorectal cancer. They include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhoea, and iron-deficiency anaemia.

The study looked at over 5,000 cases of early-onset colorectal cancer. It found that in the months, and even years leading up to a diagnosis, these four symptoms indicated a higher risk for developing this type of cancer.

Before being diagnosed, just under 20% of patients with early-onset colorectal cancer showed one or more of these symptoms between three months and two years. Those who had one symptom saw their risk of getting colorectal cancer doubled. Patients with two symptoms tripled their risk, and those with three or more symptoms saw an increased risk of more than six times.

While abdominal pain was associated with a 34% higher risk, rectal bleeding was linked to the highest risk of early-onset colorectal cancer. Diarrhoea and iron-deficiency anaemia were also predictive signs, but they were less common.

Research could help speed up diagnosis

While people under 50 aren’t typically screened for colorectal cancer due to being considered low risk, the latest research highlights the importance of not overlooking potential early warning signs in this age group. Both younger adults and their healthcare providers, including primary care doctors, gastroenterologists, and emergency medicine doctors, need to be aware of these symptoms and take them seriously.

Often, many cases of early-onset colorectal cancer are first detected in emergency rooms, where significant delays in diagnosis can occur. To speed up diagnosis, researchers suggest that doctors promptly investigate cases in patients under 50 who come in with rectal bleeding or iron-deficiency anaemia. They also need to be mindful of abdominal pain and diarrhoea as potential early symptoms.

By acting on these symptoms quickly, we can improve the chances of diagnosing the disease earlier. This early diagnosis can lead to less invasive treatments, enhance patient quality of life, and potentially improve survival rates.

Treating early onset colorectal cancer

Catching early-onset colorectal cancer in its initial stages is key to successful treatment. The earlier patients are diagnosed, the less invasive and challenging treatment will be.

Mr. Michael Stellakis is among a select group of consultants in the UK who are qualified in advanced keyhole techniques for removing bowel cancers. Book an appointment with Mr. Stellakis today to discuss your treatment options.