The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center is among the first centers in the country dedicated to young patients with colorectal cancer. Our Center focuses exclusively on the care of colorectal cancer patients under the age of 50. As part of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), our specialists provide expert care and support throughout all phases of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship, knowing that young adults face unique challenges when diagnosed with colorectal
Our Unique Focus on Young Adults
We understand that a diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be overwhelming at any age; for individuals under the age of 50, it can also feel quite isolating. Our Center provides young adult patients and family members with support and services that are fully
integrated with our comprehensive clinical care, including:
- A program coordinator who is dedicated solely to young adult patients. Your program coordinator focuses on your needs and oversees the scheduling of appointments and referrals and coordination of your care, making your experience
as easy as possible.
- A multidisciplinary team that reviews your specific case in an expedited way. The team consists of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and radiologists with specific expertise in colorectal cancers.
- Support services that address fertility concerns, sexual health,
diet and nutrition, exercise,
psychological support, social work, and more.
- A genetic evaluation to determine whether your cancer is related to a hereditary predisposition. If testing reveals a relevant genetic alteration, you will also be seen by a physician at Dana-Farber's Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention.
- Shared young adult-focused resources throughout the Institute through support groups, forums, and Young Adult Program (YAP) activities.
- Convenient colonoscopy screening by gastroenterologists at Brigham and Women's Hospital locations. Colonoscopy screenings are available during the week and on some Saturdays.
Our Clinical Services
Creating Your Personalized Treatment Plan
As a young adult patient at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), you will receive a personalized treatment plan based on your cancer's specific genetic profile. The Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center will support the cost of sequencing
the tumors of all young colorectal cancer patients through a program called GI TARGET. Our molecular tumor board will go through each patient report and make personalized recommendations for treatment that may include participation in a clinical trial.
This report will be regularly updated with the latest treatment and clinical trial information for certain subsets of patients receiving active care at DF/BWCC. Thus, your treatment plan is highly individualized and is based on the latest, cutting-edge
information obtained through genetic sequencing of your tumor, ensuring that you get the best course of treatment that targets your specific tumor type.
Supporting You Every Step of the Way
In addition to offering comprehensive and personalized care, we also act as your advocate and resource specialist by connecting you with services that provide you and your loved ones with information and support through your cancer journey. These include:
- Integrative therapies such as acupuncture, mindfulness meditation, and massage, as well as exercise and nutritional consultations through the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living.
- Sexual health counseling from a team of psychologists, gynecologists, urologists, and others who specialize in sexual health for men, women, and couples in the Sexual Health Program for Cancer Patients and Survivors.
- Fertility preservation options for both males and females through the Adult Fertility Preservation Program.
- Psychological support, counseling, and social work services through the Adult Psychosocial Oncology Program.
- Advice on how to talk with children about a cancer diagnosis through Family Connections.
- Peer support through Dana-Farber's One-to-One Program, connecting cancer patients with survivors and caregivers to share support and experiences.
- Patients are encouraged to participate in a wide array of support services offered at Dana-Farber.
Leading the Way in Research on Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer
Research is the centerpiece of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center. Our Center is committed to understanding the growing incidence of colorectal cancer in young adults and developing new ways to prevent, detect, and treat it. We are bringing together
scientists and researchers from different disciplines across the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to understand the risk factors and biological mechanisms involved in young-onset colorectal cancer. We are examining every angle: diet, lifestyle, the
immune system, the microbiome, targeted signaling pathways, mutations, and gene expression patterns, to name a few.
We want to partner with our patients to find answers to these complex research questions. There are many ways to get involved with a variety of studies. Participation is completely voluntary and will never affect the quality of your care.
Learn more about our Center's research studies for colorectal cancer in young adults.
What is Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer patients are considered young-onset if they are diagnosed before they turn 50 years old. Since 1994, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer have increased by 51 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. The rising incidence
of young-onset colorectal cancer has recently led the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) to revise its colorectal cancer screening guidelines to start earlier at age 45 instead of 50, for individuals at average risk. In the United States, 11 percent of colon cancer diagnoses, and 18 percent of rectal cancer diagnoses, occur in individuals under the age of 50. By the year 2030, colon cancer incidence is expected to double, and rectal cancer incidence is expected to quadruple in this age group.
Learn about our comprehensive colon cancer diagnosis and treatment services at Dana-Farber.
Learn about our comprehensive rectal cancer diagnosis and treatment services at Dana-Farber.