Colon cancer diagnosed at earlier ages
Even though the possibilities of colorectal cancer increases with age, a new study found that certain ethnicities are starting to be diagnosed with the condition at younger ages than ever before.
Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine found on average, African Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders were diagnosed between the ages of 64 and 68, while whites were typically diagnosed at age 72, according to the study. When diagnosed, minority groups also had more advanced stages of cancer.
Researchers suggested that lower screening rates and lower income levels were two factors leading to the detection rates varying among cultures.
Dr. Sakie Hussain, a medical director of the endoscopy center at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, is adamant about early detection. With colon cancer being 100 percent preventable, he truly doesn’t see why anyone should ever have to die from the disease.
“When you have breast cancer, the first cells they find in a biopsy are cancerous, but in a colonoscopy exam, when we find hybrid cells called polyps, it is not cancerous,” says Dr. Hussain. “Once we remove them, you no longer have to worry about anything.”
Symptoms can include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, weakness and fatigue or unintended weight loss.
“A colonoscopy is not painful,” says Dr. Hussain. “We watch it very carefully and we don’t start the test until we are sure you are sleeping. Ninety-percent of our patients wake up and don’t realize that the colonoscopy has already been done.”
He recommends regular screenings starting at 50 years old.
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. There are more than 1 million colon cancer survivors in the U.S.
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