1 March 2017

A new study from published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (US) found that “Gen X and millennials face anywhere from twice to four times the risk of colon and rectal cancer as their baby boomer counterparts.”

Lead author Rebecca Siegel, a researcher with the American Cancer Society commented that “educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis, which are so prevalent in young people, but also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend.”

The Jodi Lee Foundation was established by Nick Lee after losing his wife Jodi, to bowel cancer at age just 41. At the time Nick and Jodi knew very little about bowel cancer and with no family history had little reason to suspect she would be diagnosed with the disease.

“Our world was rocked to the core when we received the news that it was Stage 4 bowel cancer. With little symptoms and being so young we were shattered,” comments Nick Lee, CEO.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer and mainly affects people over the age of 50 but it also affects young people too, with more than 1000 people under 50 diagnosed each year.

For the past six and half years our mission has been to empower people to take active steps to prevent bowel cancer, act quickly on symptoms and live healthy lives.

“Time and time again we receive emails, calls and messages that we have saved someone’s life” continues Lee. “Studies like this from the US support our work here in Australia to get younger people acting quickly on symptoms, talking to their GP and if they are in a higher risk category – for example a direct family member has had bowel cancer – to explore appropriate screening with their GP even if they are under 50.”

Research being conducted by Associate Professor Joanne Young at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, South Australia is currently investigating why this rise is occurring and investigating the risks of this condition to ultimately improve better outcomes for young adults through prevention and early detection.

Associate Professor Joanne Young comments that “we found in the period between 1990 and 2010 the incidence of colorectal cancer increased by 85 to 100% in those aged 20 to 29 years and by 35% in those aged 30 to 39.” Her research continues to explore potential risk factors, such as obesity, alcohol and sedentary lifestyles, to ultimately improve better outcomes for young adults through prevention and early detection.

“Though the absolute numbers might not justify a population screening approach… we propose that personal and lifestyle risk factors, abdominal symptoms and family history of colorectal cancer be incorporated into a primary healthcare screening profile to identify those young adults most at risk for colorectal cancer who would benefit from a colonoscopy.”

The Jodi Lee Foundation works hard to increase awareness through initiatives like the Workplace Prevention Program and campaigns like Trust Your Gut and welcomes the development of such a screening profiles to prevent the needless loss of young lives to bowel cancer.

To find out more on Associate Professor Joanne Young’s current research click here.

And of you want to read another interesting article try The New York Times or you can read the full research paper here.