Study finds sharp rise in colorectal cancer in young adults - CBS46 News

Study finds sharp rise in colorectal cancer in young adults

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

A new study finds an alarming rise in colorectal cancer among young adults.

Doctors say many young people don't seek treatment until it is too late because they don’t realize they can get colon or rectal cancer at a young age.

At 38 years old, Rod Echols of Fayetteville thought his life was coming to an end.

“When you hear cancer the first thing you think about is death,” Echols told CBS46.

The young dad's shocking diagnosis was stage 3 colorectal cancer. He's not alone: nearly a third of rectal cancer patients are 55 or younger and the study suggests screening needs to begin at an earlier age.

“I had blood in my stool,” Echols recalled. Echols never imagined it was cancer. At first, even physicians didn’t realize what was wrong.

“I went to the doctor and the doctor told me it was hemorrhoids and went again and they told me it was hemorrhoids and scheduled my own colonoscopy to get it checked out,” Echols explained.

Dr. Kevin E. Woods of Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan says he often treats young adults for colorectal cancer, some in their early or late 20s.

“This is definitely something that has gotten all of our attention,” Dr. Woods told CBS46.

Dr. Woods added colon cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the US and everyone regardless of age needs to know what to look out for.

“What we want to tell patients is that if they see any bleeding or abdominal pain they should have that investigated and not ignore it,” Dr. Woods asserted.  

The study by the American Cancer Society found a significant increase in the number of colon and rectal cancers among young adults, despite rates declining for older Americans. Someone in their mid-20s today has double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer than someone in their mid-20s did 40 years ago. 

“There is no real rhyme or reason that we can point to right now other than a known family history,” Dr. Woods contended.

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