March is Colon Cancer Awareness (or Colorectal Cancer Awareness) Month. I have been a gastroenterologist for many decades. I never saw young people with colorectal cancer when in the earlier years of my practice. We should all be very concerned because we are seeing a shocking number of young people with colorectal cancer now. Dr. John Marshall, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown, says half of the people in his colorectal cancer clinic are under 50 years old.
The Number of Young People With Colorectal Cancer Is Staggering
NBC’s Today Show cited studies showing 63% of patients with colorectal cancer are under 50. The patients under 50 waited 3-12 months with symptoms but did not seek medical care. Because of this, by the time they got medical care, 71% were diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 cancer. The number of patients ages 20-39 diagnosed each year has increased since 1980.
I have experienced dynamic changes in the growth of our field. We have developed incredible diagnostic tools to find cancers. There are also numerous innovative treatments for colon cancer.
One in twenty people will be diagnosed with colon cancer. The screening for colon cancer is now simple and effective. Please find a board-certified gastroenterologist to evaluate you for colon cancer. I urge you to read the bullets listed below to find the information that every person should know.
Colorectal Cancer Facts
- Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
- According to the latest statistics, there are almost 2 million Americans today that have a history of colorectal cancer.
- According to the American Cancer Society, only 59 percent of people 50-years-old or older have received a colorectal cancer test that meets the acceptable guidelines.
Reducing Your Colorectal Cancer Risk
In order to reduce your risk of colon cancer, it’s important to know your symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement but that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools, or blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Preventing Colon Cancer
- To prevent colon cancer, be sure that you are tested regularly.
- To find a certified gastroenterologist in your area, check with the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association, and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
- Having a healthy diet is essential for preventing colon cancer. For example, try to limit your consumption of red meat and alcohol. Eating two-and-a-half cups of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, and fruits a day.
- Consuming the advised daily amount of calcium is also important. For instance, Collard greens, kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach are high in the calcium you’ll need.
Want to learn more? Here’s a quick article about the early symptoms of colon cancer.