Q. What is the role of the primary care physician in decreasing the incidence of the onset of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 years of age?
A. Incidence and mortality rate of colorectal cancer are increasing at a significant rate each year in individuals younger than 50 years of age. Primary care physicians have an important role to play in decreasing the incidence and mortality rate of colorectal cancer among younger individuals. They can change their approach by evaluating and educating their younger patients.
- They can use readily available tools to obtain a detailed family history of the patient younger than 50 years of age, to assess each patient’s colorectal cancer risks. They can recommend earlier screening to those who meet high-risk family or personal history criteria.
- Genetic counselors can assess patients with suspected high-risk hereditary syndromes. Patients with a confirmed hereditary syndrome can be directed to appropriate screening protocols, prophylactic operations, and other risk modification strategies.
- They could improve detection of colorectal cancer in younger individuals by spreading awareness that colorectal cancer most often occurs in individuals with no family history or apparent risk factors and is increasing among individuals younger than 50 years of age.