Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening decisions and risk assessment for adults younger than 50 years should be improved, according to a study published in Cancer.1

National guidelines recommend CRC screening to begin at age 50. However, the percentage of CRC cases in younger patients is increasing.

To examine differences regarding disease stage at diagnosis, therapy patterns, and disease-specific survival, investigators conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry for patients diagnosed with CRC from 1998 to 2011.

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Results showed that of 258 024 patients with CRC, 15% (37 847 patients) were younger than age 50. Younger patients with distant metastasis were more likely to receive surgery for their primary tumor (adjusted probability: 72% vs 63%; P < .001). Radiotherapy was also more likely to be administered in the younger patient population (adjusted probability: 53% vs 48%; P < .001).

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Investigators also found that patients who received screening prior to 50 years of age had better overall disease-specific survival (HR, 0.77; P < .001) even though a larger percentage presented with advanced disease.


  1. Abdelsattar ZM, Wong SL, Regenbogen SE, et al. Colorectal cancer outcomes and treatment patters in patients too young for average-risk screening [published online ahead of print on January 25, 2016]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29716.