Progress Has Been Made, But There is an Alarming Trend
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women of all ages — with the average person having a one in 20 chance of developing the disease during his or her lifetime. MSK treats more than 2,500 of these colorectal cancer patients each year, and while the overall incidence of colon and rectal cancers has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s – a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds that diagnosed cases in young adults are on the rise.
Today, people in their 20s or 30s are twice as likely to develop colon cancer compared to 30 years ago. And screenings, such as colonoscopies, are typically not recommended before age 50. By the time colon cancer is found in these patients, it has often advanced and become difficult to treat. So far, the root cause of the phenomenon remains unclear.
Introducing MSK’s Young Onset Colorectal Cancer Program
Led by MSK oncologist Dr. Andrea Cercek, this is a first-of-its-kind breakthrough initiative singularly focused on investigating the early-onset colorectal cancer phenomenon. It will deepen our understanding of the mechanisms driving early-onset disease, leading to specialized treatments and strategies that will better prevent, diagnose, and successfully treat these young men and women.
Using a robust database and tissue biobank, patients will be followed over time to monitor the course of disease, as well as long-term side effects of therapy — including its impact on fertility. MSK researchers will also focus on the emotional impact of colorectal cancer on people diagnosed at young ages. They will develop and promote educational programs, psychosocial tools, and resources to meet the unique needs of these young patients throughout their care and into survivorship.
Your Colorectal Cancer Donations to MSK Accelerate Care Around the World
Follow-up data will be obtained and results will be shared with the global cancer care community to inform how people are treated for this disease going forward, aiming to maximize both survival and quality of life.
MSK researchers are rapidly expanding their understanding of colon and rectal cancer biology and the opportunities have never been greater. MSK also leads the world in the application of precision medicine: identifying the specific genetic mutation that causes an individual’s cancer, and then fighting the cancer by targeting this mutation.
But funding is vital to progress. Make a donation today to advance life-saving research and treatment in colorectal and other cancers.