What is the prevalence of pediatric colorectal tumors?

Updated: Jun 06, 2020
  • Author: Jaime Shalkow, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Cameron K Tebbi, MD  more...
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Fewer than 1% of cases of adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum occur in patients younger than 20 years of age. [1] Late diagnosis is not uncommon because of the rarity of this entity and the failure to include it within the differential diagnosis for rectal bleeding, chronic abdominal pain, or bowel obstruction in children.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In adults, it represents the third most common cancer overall, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. In the United States, about 150,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, with only a minority of cases (approximately 80 per year [< 1%]) being diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, aged 15-39 years. [3]  In recent decades, effective screening has reduced the incidence of and mortality from CRC. However, young-onset CRC is on the rise.

CRC linked to familial syndromes is more common among adolescents and young adults; however, the vast majority of cases in this age group are sporadic. More recent literature has focused on age-based disparities related to CRC. [3]

See Benign or Malignant: Can You Identify These Colonic Lesions?, a Critical Images slideshow, for characteristic features of benign lesions as well as those with malignant potential.

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