As a GI cancer nurse navigator, I initially had the mindset that all the patients I would see were going to be over the age of 60. I have worked in oncology for more than 25 years and have seen many changes in that arena. Nothing I had seen prepared me for the population of younger patients affected by colorectal cancer.
I look back to when I first started in my navigator role and one of the first patients I met with stage IV colorectal cancer was a 33-year-old woman with three young daughters. I was sure I was in the wrong room, had the wrong patient. The truth is, colorectal cancer rates are rising in adults under the age of 50. Even so, screening for such a cancer doesn’t begin until age 50. Those who do get screened early have certain risk factors, such as family history, predisposing genetic condition, or problems with anemia, change in bowel habits, bloody stool or bloating.
The good news is that, overall, rates of colorectal cancer have declined, thanks to early detection and screening. However, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Symptoms include bleeding from the rectum, bloody stool, changes in bowel habits, cramping or bloating, diarrhea or constipation that is new and lasts for more than a few days, and unintentional weight loss.
By now we all know that exercising, being physically fit and eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red or processed meat will help in the prevention process. These facts are worth repeating in any article. What we don’t often talk about are the different faces of colorectal cancer.
FULL Article: Colorectal Health and Prevention