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,'” she said.
A recent cancer study showed people between 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,” Sonia said.
“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 may be in school or starting a family,” said Cathy Eng, MD, oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Because early-onset is often overlooked, cancer can metastasize. Experts now advise to undergo 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,” Richard went on to say.