1 October 2014

Bowel cancer rates have doubled in Australians in their 20s, and have risen 35 percent among people in their 30s, according to a new South Australian study.

Researchers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide have analyzed data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which show a rising incidence of bowel cancer in Australia in line with other developed countries. Around 7 per cent of bowel cancers occur in people under 50, which is approximately 1,000 cases each year.

“Young adults have a relatively low risk of bowel cancer when compared with their older counterparts and therefore are unlikely to be offered screening unless they have a family history,” the researchers said.

The study also found the incidence in older age groups has stabilised or is falling, with this possibly related to an increase in screening rates and high-risk surveillance.

Lifestyle risk factors were identified as potential contributing factors in the study, including high-fat food prepared outside the home, alcohol, increasing obesity, sedentary lifestyles and early diabetes.

We hear so many stories of young people diagnosed with late stage bowel cancer as it is less common in those under 50. It’s so important for everyone to be aware of symptoms and act quickly.

To find out more about the study, click here.