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When should you start getting screened for colon cancer?

Colon cancer cases in people under 50 have risen

The death of Chadwick Boseman and the loss of long-time sports writer and radio host Jamie Samuelson are raising awareness about the number of younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer.

Colon cancer cases in people under the age of 50 have been rising by about 2 percent annually. Traditionally, colon cancer screening started at age 50 but that recommendation has been pushed down to 45. That still leaves a number of patients that won’t be picked up with routine screenings.

Screen should be started at younger ages for people who are at higher risk for colon cancer, according to Dr. Joel Appel, chief of hematology oncology at DMC Sinai Grace.

That includes those with a history of inflammatory bowel diseases, people who received radiation to their abdomen or pelvis and anyone with a family history of colon cancer.

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It’s also important to watch out for warning signs, such as change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, stomach pain, weakness or fatigue and weight loss.

Appel has advice for people who are embarrassed by symptoms or hesitant to seek help.

“Think of those that you love and those that love you, and would want you to act at a time where you can identify the disease earlier because we all know early detection saves lives,” Appel said.

Click here to take a Colorectal Cancer Quiz created by the DMC.


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