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Rectal Cancer Rates Rising for People Under 40 -- Better Screening Recommended

While colon cancer rates have remained essentially the same in people under age 40 years, rectal cancer rates have been increasing by almost 4% every year since 1984.  Because rectal cancer was relatively rare among this under-40 age group, physicians may fail to test a patient who presents with possible symptoms of cancer.  Delayed diagnosis results from physician's wrongly assuming that the symptoms are caused by benign conditions such as hemorrhoids.  "We suggest that in young people presenting with rectal bleeding or other common signs of rectal cancer, endoscopic evaluation should be considered in order to rule out a malignancy.  This is in contrast to what is frequently done, which is to attribute these findings to hemorrhoids. More frequent endoscopic evaluation may be able to decrease the documented delay in diagnosis among young people," one of the study authors said.