Colon Cancer Patients Under 50 On the Rise

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HEATH, TX - You’ve seen all the kooky commercials telling folks to get their colonoscopy after they turn 50.

“I just turned 50. My wife’s making me do this,” one commercial from Stop Colon Cancer Now said.

Another commercial from Dr. David Rosenfeld shows nurses dancing in the operation room. People are also instructed to get one every 10 years after that.

Perhaps that’s working.  The number of colon cancer cases is down overall.

Ajay Goel, Ph.D., of Baylor University Medical Center, is researching a blood-based test that can be used prior to a colonoscopy.  People who test negative using this potential test might not need a colonoscopy at all.

And while it’s uncommon for people under 30 to come up with colon cancer, doctors say that statistic is changing.

“Colon cancer has always been seen as a disease for the elderly,” Dr. Goel said.  “Recent data over that last 10 years has shown a significant proportion of patients now present this disease much younger.”

Patients like Amy Austin, who was diagnosed at just 28.

“I had a baby, and my first symptom was extreme weight loss. Everyone was brushing it to the side, ‘You’re fine. You need to eat more.’  I just listened to everybody else but inside I knew something was really wrong," Austin explained.

“I had surgery and six months of chemotherapy. Everyone was kind of baffled because I was so young.”

Since then, this wife and mom of three kids has beaten both colon and thyroid cancer. However, she says her battle isn’t over.

“Still to this day, they test my blood, and it’s not where it should be.  You’re never not a cancer patient once you’re a cancer patient.”

It's never too early to get behind a cure.