A man in his 40s wearing dress clothes is facing away from the camera in front of a toilet in a stall, holding a roll of toilet paper in his right hand. There is text painted on the wall tiles next to the toilet that reads, “Too Young for This Sh*t!”


Too Young for This Sh*t

You might think you’re too young for colorectal cancer. Think again.

Most people think that colorectal cancer affects only older adults—but today, more adults under age 45 are being diagnosed than ever before.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the rate of colorectal cancer in people younger than age 50 has doubled since the 1990s. NCI estimates that by 2030, approximately one in 10 colon cancers and one in four rectal cancers will be diagnosed in people under age 50.

Get the facts

People under age 50 who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer are more likely to:

  • Be diagnosed at a later stage (when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat)
  • Have to see two or more doctors before getting diagnosed
  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer.

It’s important for all adults to learn about colorectal cancer prevention, early detection and the signs and symptoms of the disease—even if you think you’re too young for this sh*t. It’s up to you to advocate for your health.

Understand the symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can help you recognize any changes in your body that could be caused by cancer. Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms (especially at first), but symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in or on the stool.
  • Change in bowel movements that lasts more than a few days.
  • Stools that are more narrow than usual.
  • General abdominal problems such as bloating, fullness or cramps.
  • Diarrhea, bleeding or constipation or a feeling in the rectum that the bowel movement is not quite complete.
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason.
  • Feeling very tired all the time.
  • Vomiting.
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. You know your body best—so don’t be afraid to advocate for your health!
Image is an ad with white text on a black background reading Too Young For this Sh*t and Prevent Cancer Foundation logo displayed on a mobile phone. A Black woman with black heels is holding the phone and it is suggested she is sitting on a toilet. A roll of paper towels sits on the floor.

Know your risk

Your risk for colorectal cancer DOES increase as you age, but there are also other risk factors:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Eating a diet high in red or processed meats
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess

Your health history can also increase your risk, including having a personal or family history of:

  • Colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps (growths)
  • Genetic syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)

Or a personal history of:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
If you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier or more often than the average person—talk to your health care provider.

You’re too young for this sh*t.

The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable. Because most colorectal cancers start as precancerous polyps, getting screened (starting at 45!) is the best way to reduce your risk.

More on colorectal cancer

Routine screening–when you have NO signs or symptoms–now begins at age 45 (down from 50). When you turn 45, it’s time to check your health. Early Detection = Better Outcomes.

When it comes to colorectal cancer screening, you have options. Talk with your health care provider about the best screening test for you.
Test Screening Interval
Colonoscopy Every 10 years
Virtual colonoscopy* Every 5 years
Flexible sigmoidoscopy* Every 5 years
High sensitivity guaiac based fecal occult blood test (HS gFOBT)*  Every year
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)*  Every year
Multitarget stool DNA test (mt-sDNA)*  Every 3 years

*An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test should be followed up with a timely colonoscopy.

You may think you’re too young for this sh*t, but colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger adults—so listen up.

Page references:

  • American Cancer Society (ACS). (2018) “Colon Cancer Cases Rising Among Young Adults.”
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019) “What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?”
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019) “What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?”
  • Colorectal Cancer Alliance. (2019) 2018 Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Survey.

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