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Four signs of elevated risk for early-onset colorectal cancer identified from health insurance data

Four important signs and symptoms that signal an elevated risk of early-onset colorectal cancer have been identified from health insurance data on more than 5,000 patients with early-onset colorectal cancer. This is cancer that occurs before a person turns 50. The number of young adults with colorectal cancer has nearly doubled in recent years.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that in the period between three months and two years before diagnosis, (1) abdominal pain, (2) rectal bleeding, (3) diarrhea and (4) iron deficiency anemia each indicate an increased risk of colorectal cancer in those under age 50. Having a single one of the symptoms almost doubled the risk; having two symptoms increased risk by more than 3.5 times; and having three or more boosted the risk by more than 6.5 times.

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