With the recent death of actor Chadwick Boseman, many may be wondering how a seemingly healthy adult is diagnosed with a disease often thought of as illness of older adults. Although colorectal cancer is most often diagnosed in people 50 years or older and incidence rates in this age group are, in fact, declining, the number of adults under 50 diagnosed with colorectal cancer is rising. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 5 percent of all new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States are among persons 15 to 39 years old.

African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of cancer. Studies have shown that those who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a young age have worse survival outcomes compared to young white patients.

With improvements in prevention, early detection and treatment, there are more than 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors living in the U.S. Still, an estimated 53,200 people will die this year, making this disease the third most deadly cancer among men and women in the U.S. Approximately 147,950 people will be diagnosed in 2020. That’s one in 23 men and one in 25 women who will develop colon or rectal cancer, the two malignancies that make up colorectal cancer.

At UC San Diego Health, a comprehensive team of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists use the most advanced treatment options, such as laparoscopic surgery and personalized medicine. At Moores Cancer Center, patients can enroll in clinical trials specifically for colorectal cancer.

Oncologists with Moores Cancer Center are available to answer questions about this disease.