This year's ASCO Annual Meeting presented a few significant highlights on colon cancer in young vs. older patients.
The incidence of colorectal cancer in individuals under the age of 50 is on the rise with no clear explanation. An abstract presented at the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting, however, suggested significant differences in the microbiomes—which play a large role in the development of cancer, according to the research team—in young vs. older colon cancer patients. Though we still don’t know the bacterial composition that can be beneficial in patients with colon cancer, we do know that a diet rich in vegetables provides the right environment for the appropriate microbiomes that may help prevent colon cancer.
For individuals who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, age doesn’t determine treatment options or guidelines. However, certain age groups shouldn't overlook particular elements of care. A study of young adults with colorectal cancer presented by Julia Stal with the University of Southern California identified a major challenge in discussions on fertility with this population, highlighting that many patients couldn't recall discussing fertility with their providers. More importantly, many of these patients were unaware of their fertility preservation options. These results can negatively impact quality of life among young survivors of colorectal cancer.
Another team of researchers evaluated the benefits and side effects of adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy delivered after curative surgery) in patients with stage 3 colon cancer. Colorectal cancer patients under the age of 50 years are more likely to face cancer recurrence and death despite receiving more intense chemotherapy. Additionally, patients younger than 50 experience more nausea and vomiting with the same chemotherapy regimen. This research highlights the importance of colon cancer patients younger than 50 who receive adjuvant therapy to avoid the aggressive use of medications to combat nausea and vomiting. Additionally, young adults should consider regularly pursuing follow-up exams.
This post was authored by Dr. Afsaneh Barzi.
Last updated July 14, 2021
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