Best Life: Colorectal cancer rise

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:28 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest type of cancer, and 52,000 more deaths are expected in 2023.

Even as older adults undergo regular screenings, should younger adults do the same?

Sonia Richard, 31, first noticed her colon cancer symptoms at 27.

“I’m bleeding, I’m having bloody stool, stomachaches, fatigue, weight loss. I went to four different doctors and nobody said it was cancer, it was always, ‘You’re too young to have cancer,” said Richard.

A recent cancer study showed people between the ages of 20 and 49 show the steepest increase in late-stage, early-onset colorectal cancer.

“After my colonoscopy, it turned out, I had stage three C rectal cancer,” said Sonia.

“I’m seeing patients in my clinic that are 20 years old, 30 years old. So, these are young individuals that may have just graduated from college, graduated from grad school, embarking on some other aspect of their life, or maybe in school or starting a family,” said Oncologist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Cathy Eng, MD, FACP.

Because early onset is often overlooked, cancer can metastasize. Experts now advise undergoing colonoscopies by age 45 for patients not at high risk.

The disease during this time is likely just pre-cancerous polyps.

“You know your body better than anybody else, and if something feels off, push for answers,” said Richard.

Dr. Eng is currently involved in a breakthrough study of a drug that increases survival rates in metastatic cancer that has shown to lower the death rate by 34%.

The real key to survival is finding cancer in the pre-malignant stage, which means additional testing.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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