Steady Rise in Colon Cancer Cases in the Under 50 Population Puzzles the Medical Community

Colon Cancer, for Years Considered an Older Person's Disease, is Inexplicably Becoming More Common in Young Adults

BALTIMORE, July 18, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The face of colon cancer as we know it is changing. Long considered a cancer for the aging, it is now increasingly diagnosed among today's younger generation.  This concerning trend will be a major focus during the Colon Cancer Alliance's National Conference, which will be held in Baltimore, Maryland on July 20-21, 2012. "Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis Under 50: Trends and Implications for the Future," will offer surprising insights into the growing trend of colon cancer diagnosis for those under 50, shattering the conventional wisdom that 50 years of age is the magical number for when individuals should start being screened.
"More and more studies are finding that individuals are being diagnosed with colon cancer at younger ages than the benchmark age of 69 years," said Andrew Spiegel, Chief Executive Officer of the Colon Cancer Alliance.  "This upward trend has given us a lot to consider for patients and for practitioners. Each day at the Colon Cancer Alliance, we hear from young people who have been shocked by a diagnosis of colon cancer.  That's why this year's national conference is geared toward providing patients and healthcare professionals with a chance to discuss this new development,  build awareness of correctly diagnosing this disease in the new age demographic, and consider actions to lowering the standard screening age."
Lisa Millham, a registered nurse and colon cancer survivor, was diagnosed at age 39 while in nursing school.  "I had no family history, no risk factors, and no idea that the symptoms I was experiencing were classic symptoms of colorectal cancer," said Millham.  "I was too young.  Cancer was the last thing on my mind. Luckily, I was studying the disease in nursing school, otherwise I wouldn't have recognized the symptoms and would have continued to attribute them to something else.  My diagnosis would have been delayed and the outcome might not have been as positive."  Cancer free for seven years, Lisa considers herself a poster child for early detection and treatment of colon cancer.  "As a survivor and a health care professional, I make it my business to urge my patients and my family to see their doctors and schedule their colonoscopies, especially if they have a family history or other risk factors."
For the first time, the 2012 National Conference will offer continuing education credits for physician and nursing professionals.  Through a joint sponsorship with the Institute for Continuing Healthcare Education and the Colon Cancer Alliance, physicians can gain 12.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™.  In addition, nurses can gain up to 11.9 contract hours of credit through the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

The conference will provide patients, survivors, healthcare professionals, advocates, and other members of the colon cancer community with an opportunity to meet face to face while exploring current research trends, learning about the latest treatment advances and participating in panel discussions with leading medical professionals to help advance the medical field's understanding of this still too often misdiagnosed cancer.
"Armed with the new facts about diagnosis, healthcare professionals and patients alike will be better suited to recognize symptoms at an earlier stage," continued Spiegel.  "They'll be better able to advocate for a quicker colon cancer diagnosis, and by doing so, catch the cancer at a stage where it can be successfully treated."
The Colon Cancer Alliance is the nation's leading colon cancer patient advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and survivorship of this disease. It provides a variety of support, education and awareness programs throughout the year for patients, survivors, caregivers and the general public.


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