We have talked many times in the past about the importance of screening for cancers, be it skin cancer screens, mammograms or PSA testing, time has shown that the earlier we have found a cancer in most cases the easier it is to treat and the better outcomes we end up with. For Colon cancer we have discussed how colonoscopy has allowed us to identify colon cancer early and in many cases treat without surgery. Our goal has been to make sure the screening of all is started at appropriate times. The ACA has also pushed to make sure that screening is a covered service and that all patients have access to care.
Well, boy are things changing. We have had the age of 50 set as a goal to screen as this is the age that had been proven to minimize the chance of missing a colon cancer in the early stage. Unfortunately in the US we are seeing a very disturbing trend. That trend is that younger individuals are being diagnosed with colon cancer, even those without a family history of colon cancer. You ay remember a little over a year ago I shared with you the death of my cousin from colon cancer. She was diagnosed well before the age of 50, the age that screening would have started. She passed away at the age of 50 after a courageous and difficult fight.
So what do we know, we know that each year in the US we see close to 135,000 new diagnosis of colon cancer and we still have 50,000 deaths a year from colon cancer the vast majority of those are from patients over the age of 50. However if I shared with you that over 15,000 of those cases were in patients in their 40’s or 30’s, it would get your attention. This is a a 3% increase each year since 1983. The problem with this is screening is still not recommended for these younger individuals and often by the time it is found in these younger patients the disease has often spread and is difficult to treat or not treatable at all.
This info has caught the eyes of many and they are looking for common links, something that could explain this trend. They are not finding genetic trends , except for those they already know to look for. Unfortunately colon cancer is a cancer of the environment we live in. We know that chemicals, processed foods and other non natural additives can cause colon cancer. It is a disease of industrialized countries, couple that with the diets we are taking in and it may be no surprise that we are seeing more colon cancer. Colon and rectal cancer have common risk factors they include obesity, inactivity diets high in red and processed meats and low in fruits and vegetables.
The big question now is do we move the screening age down, because even with education many think the chance of changing the diets of millennials would be nearly impossible.
Add more here about causation, treatment, outcomes,…………
Yogi Berra used to say “it’s deja vu all over again”
Many of you may remember the Mumps outbreak in the NHL two years ago, it spread to many teams and actually impacted quite a few players. We took a few minutes to talk about it as it impacted all star Sidney Crosby among others. It had spread around a handful of teams before being contained. Well, it is happening again. Just last week 3? Players from the Wild and “several players” on the Canucks have been diagnosed with Mumps.
More about this story and about Mumps in general to be added later this weekend, why hockey players, why is it spreading, what should be done, do we need to be concerned about immunizations of our teens as this is a childhood immunization.