You’re Never Too Young for Colon Cancer
Most people assume that colon cancer only affects the elderly, but this is not true. According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, 10 percent of all new colon cancer patients are under the age of 50.
Why Young-Onset Colon Cancer is on the Rise
Although colon cancer incidence among Americans over the age of 50 is declining, young-onset colon cancer is on the rise. This may be for a few reasons:
- Publications and educational materials about colon cancer screening and prevention tend to be targeted to people who are 50 years of age or older.
- Younger people are unfamiliar with risk factors and warning signs for colon cancer.
- Younger people are often unaware of their family health history.
Importance of Increasing Awareness of Young-Onset Colon Cancer
Disease prevention begins with knowing the symptoms. However, colon cancer can be a challenging disease to diagnose because there are often no warning signs in the early stages. For those who do experience symptoms, the indicators may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stool
- Change in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bloating, fullness or cramps
Being familiar with common symptoms of colon cancer helped Missy, age 26, know that she needed a colon screening. She wrote the following in a testimonial: “Thanks to nursing school, I was able to recognize the symptoms. I insisted my GI doctor perform a colonoscopy. I believe it was the early detection and treatment that stopped the stage 1 from becoming a much bigger problem. Don’t be afraid to get screened!” (source: Colorectal Cancer Alliance).
Listen to Your Gut and Speak up About Colon Cancer
Since colon cancer is on the rise among younger people, it is important to pay attention to your body. If you experience any warning signs of colon cancer that persist or worsen, make an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
The good news is that colon cancer is over 90 percent treatable when it is discovered in the early stages. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask to be screened. It is important to know if you have a family history of colon cancer because that could make you eligible for early or more frequent screenings. If you have any concerns about your colon health, make an appointment with your GI doctor today.