There’s some good news for older Americans when it comes to cancer. A new report states that colorectal cancer rates for those over 50 years old have dropped by 32% since 2000, while deaths from the same have fallen by 34%.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that these declining numbers are most probably due to increased screening, which go a long way towards preventing colorectal cancer by identifying and removing precancerous growths early on.
Colorectal cancer rates are declining the fastest in those ages 65 years old and up, including tumors found in the distal colon, HealthDay News reports. The drop in numbers is slowest for those between the ages of 50 to 64, as well as for rectal tumors, the research says.
There was a 9% drop in rectal tumors for men ages 50 to 64, but none for women in the same age group. However, the rates fell 38% in men and 41% in women over the age of 65.
In addition, as screening rates went up, colorectal cancer incidences fell, confirming the link between the two.
Every state in the U.S. saw a drop in colorectal cancer rates among older adults, with seven states showing a decline of over 5% between 2009 and 2013. These are: California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Rhode Island and South Dakota.
Unsurprisingly, the states with the highest rates of colorectal cancer had the slowest drops in numbers: Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, the ACS says.
However, the same does not hold true for the younger generation. The report states that among younger adults, incidences of colorectal cancer increased by 22% from 2000 to 2013. This, in turn, may predict a sharp rise in cancer rates in the years to come.
Researchers say it is important for doctors to be aware of these facts, and recommend screening for patients who might be showing symptoms of the disease. Screening is recommended to start at 50 years old.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among Americans.