Understanding why young Millennial and Gen Z men are having higher risks of Colorectal Cancer 

It is commonly believed that colorectal cancer mainly affects older adults. However, recent studies have shown that it increasingly affects young adults, including those from the Millennial and Gen Z generations. Surgeons are emphasizing the importance of creating awareness about this condition and early detection. They urge individuals under the age of 45 to consult their doctors immediately if they experience any concerning symptoms such as constipation, rectal bleeding, or changes in bowel habits.

What statistics are saying

Recent data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) has shown a worrisome trend regarding colorectal cancer. In 2019, 20% of diagnoses were in individuals under 55, double the rate from 1995. Additionally, the incidence of advanced disease in those under 50 has been increasing at a rate of approximately 3% annually. Predictions for 2023 indicate that there will be over 19,000 diagnoses and 3,750 deaths in individuals under 50.

Shift in Trends

Colorectal cancer is still more common in individuals aged 65 and above. However, the occurrence of the disease in this age group is decreasing. In recent times, the number of cases of colorectal cancer has been increasing among men under 50, and it has now become the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in this group. Similarly, among women, it is now the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, surpassing its previously held position.

Challenges for Younger Patients

Diagnosing colorectal cancer in younger individuals presents unique challenges that can disrupt careers and finances. Quick decisions regarding fertility preservation may become necessary, underscoring the importance of proactive healthcare management.

Contributing Factors

There has been a rise in colorectal cancer among young adults due to various lifestyle and environmental factors. These factors include the following:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Poor dietary habits 

While genetic factors such as Lynch Syndrome are known to predispose individuals to colon cancer, the surge in cases cannot be solely attributed to known genetic markers.

Advancements in Research

Ongoing research, including molecular tumor profiling, can provide personalized treatment strategies. However, the genetic underpinnings of colorectal cancer in young adults are unexplored, highlighting the need for further studies.

Screening Recommendations

Although routine colonoscopies for young adults are not currently necessary due to low incidence rates, it is recommended that high-risk groups, such as Black individuals and those with a family history of colorectal cancer, undergo targeted screening. Early detection through screenings and vigilant symptom monitoring can significantly improve outcomes.

Symptom Awareness

Young adults need to stay alert for potential symptoms of colon cancer, such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, and unexplained fatigue. Seeking timely medical attention is crucial for prompt diagnosis and evaluation.

Preventive Measures

Leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a high-fiber diet, can help decrease the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Treatment Options

Although receiving a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally taxing, there are many effective surgical interventions for colon and rectal cancers. Depending on the extent of the tumor and the individual patient, tailored treatment plans may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or colostomy.


Colorectal cancer is not only affecting older people anymore. Millennials and Gen Zers should focus on prevention and symptom awareness to fight the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer among younger age groups. By promoting early detection and adopting healthy lifestyle habits, people can take proactive measures to protect their health against this common disease.

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 


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