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Colon cancer on the rise among millennials

Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 19:46:35-05

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness month, and nearly 150 thousand Americans are diagnosed each year.

Doctors are telling people that early screenings can save lives. 
The screening doesn't typically happen until after the age of 50, but new research shows more millennials are being diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer. 
Stephanie Aguilar was just 27-years-old when she was diagnosed with Colon cancer. She quickly underwent surgery.  
"I did treatment for about a year, and then I went into remission."
But a year later, the cancer came back - more aggressively. 
The now 32-year-old is battling stage 4 colon cancer. Stephanie says she is undergoing treatment, radiation, and chemo. 
But because of her age physicians gave her the run around until she insisted something was wrong. 
After months of abdominal pain, blood in her stool, sudden weight loss and loss of appetite - she knew something was wrong. 
"They did the colon screening, and they found the tumor," said Stephanie. 
Normally, physicians only screen for colon cancer after the age of 50, but that age is declining - rapidly. 
Researchers have found that more young people have been diagnosed with a more aggressive colon cancer.
Doctor Valentine Nfonsam, a colorectal surgeon at Banner University Medical Center says younger patients present a more advanced stage of cancer. "stage 3 or 4." 
"One of the reasons is maybe they present late." Adding, "They had symptoms all this time, but just because they're young, they're not diagnosed with colon cancer."
Dr. Nfonsam says everyone should be an advocate for themselves. If you feel something is wrong - insist on getting a screening. 
Some of the symptoms of colon cancer include: 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • blood in the stool
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain 
While people can't prevent colon cancer, Dr. Nfonsam says you can decrease your chances by eating healthy, no red meats, adding fiber to your diet and exercising.