(HealthDay News) — Younger patients with colorectal cancer are more likely to present with abdominal pain and via an emergency, according to a study published online Aug. 6 in Colorectal Disease.

Chanpreet S. Arhi, from Imperial College London, and colleagues compared the interval before diagnosis, presenting symptoms, and odds ratio of an emergency diagnosis for those under age 50 and older patients. Data were included for 7,315 patients, of whom 6.9 percent were aged under 50 years and 16.0, 31.4, and 45.7 percent were aged 50 to 59, 60 to 69, and 70 to 79 years, respectively.

The researchers found that the likelihood of presenting with abdominal pain and via an emergency was increased for young patients, and they had the lowest percentage of early-stage cancer. Compared with patients aged 60 to 69 years, young patients experienced a longer interval between referral and diagnosis (12.5 days), indicating a higher proportion of nonurgent referrals (33.3 percent). If a red-flag symptom was noted at presentation, there was no difference in the odds ratio for an emergency diagnosis with age; however, if the symptom was nonspecific, the odds ratio for an emergency diagnosis increased significantly for young patients.

“Primary care physicians should be made aware of these differences if there is to be a reduction in missed opportunities to prevent emergency diagnoses,” the authors write.

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