Many think colon cancer is something only people over 50 get, but more and more cases are diagnosed in younger people and the uptick has doctors very worried.
"It came out of the blue, a terrible pain," said Austin Thomas, who was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer just a few days after her 27th birthday. "I'm young. I've been so healthy and I have zero family history of cancer."
Doctors say they are unsure why cases of colon cancer appear to be on the rise in younger people.
"I learned that colon cancer was an old person's disease that it didn't really start until you got older, but what we are observing is a shift and now we have patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s with colorectal cancer," said Dr. John Marshall, the chief of hematology and oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
More than 10,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year and colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
Doctors stress paying attention to your body and symptoms and getting checked out if something feels off.
The Food and Drug Administration advises people to see their doctor if they have the following symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits (for example, diarrhea, constipation, feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way)
- Bright or dark blood in stool
- Stools narrower than usual
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Feeling very tired