Colorectal cancer has shown a dramatic increase among younger and middle-aged populations in the United States, becoming the third most diagnosed form of cancer among Americans.

The numbers tell the story. In 2020, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there are approximately 104,000 new cases of colon cancer and 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer. Combined, colorectal cancer may lead to 53,000 deaths this year alone.

Because of these numbers, AMSURG, an Envision Healthcare solution, and its nearly 200 gastroenterology partner centers are working tirelessly to advance the fight against colorectal cancer. Last year alone, AMSURG performed more than 600,000 colonoscopies and is responding to the two percent annual increase in colon cancer related deaths in people under age 55.

The increase in deaths in this younger population prompted the ACS to update its screening guidelines and recommend screening begin at 45 for people who are at average risk. “As a physician, I agree that 45 is the new 50,” said John Popp, M.D., Medical Director for AMSURG. “When you look at the last decade or so, incidence of CRC has dropped because we are screening people 50 and older. But at the same time, we have to do something when we see that the rates of CRC in people under 50 have doubled in that same period.”

AMSURG has leveraged its national scope as an early advocate of GIQuIC, the Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Consortium. AMSURG partners began utilizing the registry in 2013 and the company’s impact has been significant, providing more than 2.5 million colonoscopy reports in the GIQuIC registry – accounting for nearly 25 percent of entrants. “We have an obligation to advance colon cancer research, and GIQuIC has allowed us to add to the science by our research capabilities,” Dr. Popp said.

“Because of our scale, we have such a significant amount of quality and demographic data to draw from,” Dr. Popp said. “We have patients in that 45-50 age range with a symptom that warranted a colonoscopy and the instances of colon cancer are there. This is not an anomaly, and the people studying early-onset colon cancer are very interested in that data.”

Diagnosed early, colorectal cancer is easier to treat, and patients have an increased chance of survival. Colorectal cancer affects people of all genders, races and ethnicities, and it often has no warning signs or symptoms until it becomes advanced. Risk factors can include a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and certain lifestyle habits.

Depending on a person’s age and health insurance policy, a screening colonoscopy may be provided free of cost.

To learn more about colorectal cancer and find a gastroenterologist, visit