March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and one of the most disturbing trends is the increase in younger people being diagnosed.
Now new research finds young colorectal cancer deaths seem to be more prevalent in certain parts of the country including ours.
Experts don’t yet know why we’re seeing such a dramatic increase in cases of colon cancer under age 50.
But there may be a clue in discovering where it’s happening.
“The overarching result that we found was that geographic patterns among the youngest colorectal cancer patients differs substantially from even slightly older young onset colorectal cancer patients from the 35 to 49 year age category,” said Black Buchalter, Ph.D. from the Cleveland Clinic. “Among the youngest patients, we found notable hot spots in the Midwest and also the Great Lakes region.”
Blake Buchalter is the lead author of the Cleveland Clinic study.
He said this kind of research has never really been done before in terms of tracking geographic patterns of young onset colorectal cancer deaths.
In addition to finding hot spots for mortality, the team also found three significant cold spots, which include the southwest, California and mountain west.
Currently, it’s unclear why young onset colorectal cancer deaths seem to be more common in certain regions.
However, that’s something Buchalter said they plan to further investigate in the future.
“Basically this study was trying to tease out what the actual geographic regions of disparity look like for young onset colorectal cancer mortality and then we’re trying to figure out what’s causing that going forward,” said Buchalter.
According to the CDC, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women in the united states.
Screenings for colorectal cancer should start at 45 years old.
Those who are at an increased risk may need to be screened sooner but should consult with their doctor first.
Related: Detroit Free Press editor discusses her battle with stage 4 colon cancer