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Gastroenterologist Ricciardiello: ‘Colorectal cancer on the rise among young people’

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“Colorectal cancer is getting earlier and earlier. Over the past 20 years there has been an increase in cases in the population aged 20 to 49, particularly in the United States and Northern Europe. Recent data tells us of a 5% annual increase in Scandinavian populations, in England, but also in other areas such as France. The reasons for the early development of this tumor, not surprisingly called ‘early cancer’, are linked to lifestyle, obesity, diet more and more Western-style. There are studies that show how some substances contained in food can promote inflammation and therefore the onset of early-onset colorectal cancer “. Thus Luigi Ricciardiello, associate professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Bologna, on the occasion of the 28th Fismad Congress underway in Rome. Prevention is essential for the gastroenterologist. “Screening saves lives, reduces both incidence and mortality – underlines Ricciardiello – The population to which colorectal cancer screening is aimed is that between 50 and 70 years. We have introduced population screening since the mid-2000s. in all Italian regions. This form of prevention is carried out with a very simple test which is that of fecal blood. When the test is positive, the individual is called to have a colonoscopy and, through the removal of polyps or the identification of a malignant tumor, but at an early stage, we are able to effectively reduce mortality “. However “the pandemic – recalls the expert – weighed heavily on the diagnosis, especially during the first months of closure due to the virus. The screening programs suffered a very significant delay. With a group of researchers we quantified the effect of the various lockdowns and screening delays on the most advanced disease, or the least treatable one. And what we have shown is that, for delays of more than 6 months, there is an increase in the most advanced cases, with an increased 5-year mortality 12% “. Surely “there have been great efforts by the Regions to mitigate the effect of delays, for example by increasing the number of services – suggests Ricciardiello – and also working with pharmacies to distribute the kits. But on these measures we will have more consistent data in the next years”.

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