Colonoscopies and cancer screenings are recommended for people who turn fifty. And as a result, colon and rectal cancers have been declining for decades among older adults. Now, a new study from the American Cancer Society shows an ominous trend, a sharp increase in colon and rectal cancer in younger Americans.
Forty-four-year old Jennifer Maxwell is married with two children. Less than a year ago, she suddenly lost 30 pounds, and developed high blood pressure. Medicine made her constipated. She had digestive issues, rectal bleeding, and felt like she like she was sitting on a rock. She questioned her doctor …
“I even asked her at the time: how do you know it’s not something like a tumor? I was told, the exam looks fine, you’re too young,” Maxwell said.
A colonoscopy revealed a mass on her rectum and several spots on her liver, stage four rectal cancer.
“So of course it’s absolutely heart breaking knowing that she’s 44 and a mother of two, but you have to keep going.” Kanthi Yalamanchili, MD, Gastroenterologist at Baylor Scott & White Grapevine/Texas Digestive Disease Consultants explained.
Seven chemo treatments every two weeks is reducing the size of Jennifer’s tumor.
“I believe that I will get to see my children grow up and I will be able to raise them. I have a strong faith in that,” Maxwell stated.
The study suggests that obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, heavy alcohol use, and tobacco use could be contributing to younger cases of colorectal cancer. The accepted guidelines of colon cancer screening at age 50 are being challenged.
“In my practice, we are starting to stress doing colonoscopies on younger people, younger than 50,” Dr. Yalamanchili said.
Screening that could give some patients a head start in the fight against this deadly disease.
Without any symptoms or family history, colorectal cancer screening is still recommended beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. The Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society says the new data will be examined by an independent guidelines group to determine whether a change in those recommendations is warranted.