The rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are up 14% among commercially-insured adults ages 22-37, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report released [July 20]. The rates of diabetes and diagnosed obesity are up 35% and 100%, respectively.
People with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis have almost double the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those with diabetes or diagnosed obesity have a 1.7 and 1.3 times greater risk, respectively.
This trend among millennials could lead to a spike in colorectal cancer cases, according to the report, which stresses the importance of colorectal cancer screening.
A previous BCBS report found that millennials have a higher prevalence rate for type 2 diabetes, Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis than Generation X did at the same age. And though the overall colon cancer incidence rate is falling, it is rising among younger adults.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening begin at age 50, but people with Crohn’s disease or other risk factors should get screened earlier.
Though early detection and treatment can make a big difference in patient outcomes, screening rates are still low.
About 60% of people 50 and older and nearly half of people with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis aren’t getting screened, according to the BCBS report. It cites a lack of awareness regarding the importance of screenings and anxiety about the process as the driving factors.