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Colorectal cancer rates surge in Gen X, millennials - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Colorectal cancer rates surge in Gen X, millennials

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NEW YORK -

Each pregnancy for Chaya Biskin-Sitko seemed to get harder and more painful. But it took years for her doctors to find what was wrong.

"I've never even considered colon cancer as a thing, I thought old men get that," she said.

The 33-year-old mother of three is one of a growing number of young people diagnosed with colorectal cancer according to a new American Cancer Society study. It shows people born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as people born in 1950 faced at the same age.

So why is this happening?

"That's the million-dollar question," said Dr. Andrea Cercek of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "We don't know."

Cercek says the increase is not linked to family history, so environmental factors are likely to blame.

"Some of it may be due to the fact that there have been changes in young people, in the millennial generation, in terms of a more sedentary lifestyle, dietary changes; obesity may play a role but that is not really clear," Cercek said.

A high-fiber, low-fat diet is believed to reduce the danger. Current guidelines recommend screening at age 50 for people at average risk, making it hard to catch in younger patients.

"Although the data do not completely support early screening, we may want to consider it," Cercek said.

Biskin-Sitko had surgery and chemotherapy to treat her stage 4 cancer.

"If you have any symptoms, if you're bleeding at all, if your stomach is hurting, if something is not going right, if you're not feeling 100 percent, don't just go to one doctor and take their word for it," Biskin-Sitko said.

She hopes her story will bring awareness to a group that may think this can't happen to them.

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