Chronic conditions associated with colon cancer on the rise, especially among millennials

By Regence
July 23, 2020
BCBSA colorectal cancer screening image

A new study released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows a substantial increase in the prevalence of known risk factors for colorectal cancer – including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Type I and II diabetes and diagnosed obesity – across all generations but especially in the millennial age group (those ages 22-37).

In addition, the report shows many people are not getting screened for colon cancer in their early 50s, as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

BCBSA chronic conditions
Source: BCBSA

Low rates of screening coupled with the increased prevalence of risk factors like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, obesity and diabetes could lead to a significant rise in colorectal cancer diagnoses in the future, especially among younger generations. The research found diagnosed obesity was up 100% between 2014 and 2018, nationwide among people ages 22-37 and diabetes jumped 35% in this age group during this same time period.  

Regular screening can catch cancer early: Regence is here to help

Catching cancer early is key to improved treatment outcomes. Cancer screening can catch precancerous polyps and identify colorectal cancer in its early stages. Colorectal cancer screening is covered by Regence for members over age 50 and those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, when prescribed by a doctor.

Regence also provides support for members who are managing Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, obesity, diabetes and other conditions to ensure they get the recommended screenings and resources.

To learn about your benefits, sign in to your account at or call us at the number on the back of your member ID card. We’re here to help.