Is It Too Early to Think About Colon Cancer?

If you’re under 50, chances are you don’t think about your colon health. Typically, colonoscopies are not recommended for those younger than 50.

But new findings suggest it may be wise to pay attention to your colon health earlier.
A study from the American Cancer Society shows the death rate for colorectal cancer for adults ages 20 to 54 has increased over the last ten years.

Troubling trends

  • More young and middle-aged adults are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The reason is unknown.
  • The death rate for colorectal cancer in adults ages 20 to 54 increased by 1% each year from 2004 to 2014.
  • From the mid-1970s through the 1990s, the death rate was decreasing by about 2% each year.
  • The death rate for colorectal cancer for people ages 20 to 54 increased in white Americans by 1.4% each year since 2004. In contrast, the death rate slowly decreased in African Americans throughout the 45 years studied.
  • The death rate is also increasing among adults in their early 50s.

Take action

Colon cancer that is detected early can be treated. It has a 90 percent survival rate. Since younger people don’t usually get screenings, if colon cancer appears at later stages, it doesn’t have the same survival rate. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of colon cancer. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool) that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or belly pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Let us help

Capital BlueCross members can call our Nurse Line or make an appointment with our health coaches.


This article uses information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and from the American Cancer Society website.

The information provided is meant for a general audience. Capital BlueCross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but does not assume any liability associated with its use.