Colon and Rectal Cancer Rates Skyrocketing for Younger People

Media Resources

Bob Hallinan

Executive Producer

Office: (913) 588-7284

Cell: (913)-481-7329


            A study just published in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute shows cancers of the colon and rectum in The United States have been declining in older adults for decades.  But an alarming trend shows a sharp rise in colorectal cancers in adults as young as their 20s and 30s. The study shows somebody born in 1990 has double the risk of early colon cancer and four times the risk of early rectal cancer as somebody born in 1950.

            That’s not surprising to Raed Al-Rajabi, MD, an oncologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. He’s seen the trend as well, and thinks family history and obesity are factors. He says a healthy lifestyle, including eating lots of fruits and vegetables, plus losing weight, can make a difference. The doctor also says another factor may be screening. Traditionally, only those 50 and over have undergone the gold standard screening tool of a colonoscopy, but those in his field are urging earlier screenings for those with the risk factors of obesity or a family history of colorectal cancer.

            Corina Ramirez is a patient of Dr. Al-Rajabi’s. Two years ago at age 35, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She sought treatment at two other locations before coming to The University of Kansas Cancer Center, where she enrolled in a clinical trial involving immunotherapy, a treatment that uses parts of a person’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Today, she’s shown considerable improvement and an increased quality of life.

            In the video, Dr. Raed Al-Rajabi describes Ramirez’s condition, and why she was a good candidate for the trial. He also talks about the link between obesity and colon cancer, plus the need to lower the age for screening. He explains the warning signs, and ways to combat the disease.

            Corina Ramirez, the patient, describes what symptoms she began to feel and the treatment she originally sought before coming to The University of Kansas Cancer Center. She talks about how her life has improved since she began treatment. She also says it can happen to anyone, and not to ignore symptoms, which can include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, abrupt weight loss and rectal pain.

            The video also shows the office visit with doctor and patient.