How could this have happened to someone so young, so accomplished and someone who appeared to be in great physical shape? Recent research has shown that rates of colorectal cancer (which is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum) have been on the rise and continue to rise in younger populations.
It is usually recommended that persons like myself who have an average risk of colorectal cancer, should start getting colonoscopies at age 50. And then if all looks good, get one every 10 years.
I had my first colonoscopy when I turned 50 in 2010. So recently I decided I was due for a follow up since I am about to turn 60!
If you do a simple Google search of “colorectal cancer and young people,” you will see far too many recent stories about people under the age of 40 afflicted by this type of cancer. It is reportedly the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American people, according to the American Cancer Society.
Colorectal cancer may be most prevalent among people over the age of 50, but that doesn’t mean younger people are immune to it. In the late 90s, Katie Couric and husband Jay Monahan learned he had colon cancer. He died nine months later at the age of 42. Since then, Couric has been a dedicated advocate for colon cancer screenings. If you’re over 50, there’s a good chance your doctor has already talked to you about colonoscopies and the importance of screening for colorectal cancer.
March is colorectal cancer month, and each year at this time I am reminded it took the life of my brother at the age of 65. What is even more intriguing is for years prior to his death, he was told by doctors to get a colonoscopy but he never did. I do not think he really appreciated the importance of getting a colonoscopy until after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Like many of us, he did not take the time to focus on preventive health care because he had no apparent symptoms. There appears to be a human tendency to generally wait until we are sick or have symptoms before we focus on our health.
If you are middle aged, there’s a good chance your doctor has mentioned the C word to you -- colonoscopy. Why? Because of that other C word -- cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). In 2016, an estimated 134,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease, and about 49,000 will die from it.
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