Colon cancer is on the rise among young adults. Now, experts are sharing a “highly concerning” red flag — pencil-thin poop.

Dr. Michael Cecchini, co-director of the colorectal program at the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers and medical oncologist at Yale Cancer Center, tells HuffPost that colon cancer patients can have very thin stools.

“This tends to occur if tumors are present near the end of the colon or if they line the entire inside of the colon, which narrows whatever stool passes through,” Cecchini said this week. “When it exists, it is highly concerning.”

Skinny scat is most alarming when it’s a new and persistent change in bowel function.

As The Post has reported, colorectal cancer diagnoses in 20- and 30-somethings have been alarming health experts. 20% of new colorectal cancer cases in 2019 were in people younger than 55, up from 11% in 1995.

A Tufts University gastroenterologist recently laid blame on the obesity epidemic, pointing out that excess body fat has been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer. 

“Among all the common cancers,” said Joel Mason, senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, “colorectal cancer is one where the risk is most sensitive to dietary factors.”

Experts urge everyone to be aware of the warning signs of colon cancer, with the poop symptom gaining traction on social media.

For reference, healthy poops should be long and sausage-shaped and expelled in a single piece or several smaller pieces.

Dr. Jeffrey Dueker, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, tells HuffPost that any noticeable shift in one’s bowel habits, including the frequency of bathroom visits and change in shape or consistency, can be a sign of something serious.

Other, more common symptoms of colon cancer include unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, and abdominal pain. Dueker stresses that these can be but are not always signs of colon cancer.

Yet, young people, in particular, are more inclined to dismiss warning signs and discount symptoms.

Medical professionals agree that undergoing a colonoscopy is key to catching colorectal cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages.

Screenings typically start at age 45, but those experiencing symptoms and those with a family history of colon cancer may be eligible earlier.

Cecchini explains, “It’s important to catch cancer early through screening or alerting to some of … these symptoms so that we diagnose cancer at an earlier stage, where it’s more treatable and hopefully curable. We still cure the majority of people with this cancer every year.”

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