Increasing rate of colorectal cancer in younger patients: a review of colonoscopy findings in patients under 50 at a tertiary institution

Colorectal Cancer

Kim J, et al. ANZ J Surg 2020.


BACKGROUND: In Australia, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. It is more common in patients over 50 years, with previous evidence showing patients under 50 years account for only 9% of CRC. However, recent Australian and International studies have shown an increase in CRC incidence in patients under 50 years of age. The main aim of this study was to analyse the incidence of CRC in patients under 50 and to determine if screening would be beneficial in this population.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was performed on all patients under 50 years of age who underwent a colonoscopy, performed by a colorectal surgeon, at the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service between January 2013 and December 2017.

RESULTS: A total of 557 patients were included in the study; 120 (21.5%) colonoscopies had a significant finding (CRC or adenoma with malignant potential). 1.9% of patients were diagnosed with CRC, all were symptomatic at time of diagnosis, the majority were stage 3 or 4.

CONCLUSION: A total of 1.9% of patients under 50 who underwent colonoscopy were diagnosed with CRC, whilst 21.5% of patients had significant findings. These rates are greater than previously quoted figures and data for patients under 50, and provides evidence to support lowering of the CRC faecal occult blood testing screening age.