Member programs

Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer

Learn more about GCCA members’ early age onset colorectal cancer initiatives.

Colorectal cancer patients are getting younger

Early-onset colorectal cancer (bowel cancer) is colon cancer or rectal cancer diagnosed before the age of 50. It is also known as early age onset colorectal or bowel cancer and young-onset colorectal or bowel cancer. Early-onset colorectal cancer accounts for about 10% of colon cancers and 15-20% of rectal cancers.

Since the mid-1990s, the age distribution of colorectal cancer has been shifting. Epidemiology studies show that the incidence of early-onset bowel cancer has been increasing in higher income countries across North America, Europe, Australasia, and parts of Asia. From 1990 to 2019, global early-onset colorectal cancer cases more than doubled from around 95,000 to more than 225,000.  
GCCA is proud to partner with nearly 100 member organizations doing important colorectal cancer work around the world. Here’s what some of our members are doing to address the alarming increase in early-onset colorectal cancer.

Bowel Cancer Australia

’You have bowel cancer’ are four words you don’t expect to hear when you’re young. Yet each year over 1700 young Australians do.” The Never Too Young program seeks to raise awareness, lower the standard screening age, improve diagnostic and treatment pathways for younger people, and promote research for a better understanding of bowel cancer in young people. The Bowel Cancer Australia Peer-Support community offers support to young people facing bowel cancer.

Bowel Cancer New Zealand

“Anyone can get bowel cancer, at any age.” Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s Never Too Young program offers support for younger patients, promotes awareness of symptoms and when to seek care, shares stories from young people with bowel cancer, and advocates for care and support tailored to young people’s needs.

Bowel Cancer UK

"Tackling the challenges faced by people under 50 with bowel cancer.” This is the mission behind Bowel Cancer UK’s Never Too Young initiative which incorporates an awareness campaign, support for younger patients, and the development of a bowel cancer symptoms diary to help young patients and their GPs recognize the need for further investigation.

Colon Cancer Coalition

“Age is not a factor.” The Colon Cancer Coalition promotes awareness of early-onset colorectal cancer and its symptoms and highlights the importance of young people knowing their family history, reducing their risk of CRC, and advocating for themselves. Through patient stories, the Colon Cancer Coalition shares the resilience hope of young people with colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Alliance

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance has created a survey and report on the unmet needs of young-onset colorectal cancer patients and caregivers, convenes the Never Too Young Taskforce to address these concerns, and promotes awareness of symptoms and colorectal cancer risk reduction.

Colorectal Cancer Canada

"Colorectal cancer is not an old person’s disease.” Colorectal Cancer Canada’s Never Too Young program is working to decrease the number of young people that are diagnosed with advanced stage disease by educating young people about symptoms and prevention of early age onset colorectal cancer and sensitizing health care professionals.

Colorectal Cancer Resource and Action Network (CCRAN)

The Colorectal Cancer Resource and Action Network offers support and information through its early age onset CRC hub. They have also convened a young adult colorectal cancer patient advisory council to secure direction and guidance from young patients, and to allow them to share their experiences to help others diagnosed with early age onset colorectal cancer.

Digestive Cancers Europe

"Advancing the Prevention and Understanding of Colorectal Cancer in Younger Patients to Save More Lives.” Digestive Cancers Europe is focusing their annual European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month campaign on early age onset disease. They are exploring the unique challenges and risk factors for younger people with colorectal cancer, emphasizing the importance of early detection and timely intervention.

Fight Colorectal Cancer

Fight CRC’s Early-Age Onset Colorectal Cancer Working Group is made up of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, oncologists, and researchers. The goal of this research advisory committee is to prioritize the research agenda and understand the best approaches towards understanding early-age onset colorectal cancer.

The Colon Club

The Colon Club unites young adults who are facing colorectal cancer, offering a space for healing, community, and connection. The Colon Club is focused on the particular needs of young patients and survivors of colorectal cancer, promoting awareness of early-onset CRC, and offers support, patient stories, and clinical trial information.