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'It's hitting younger and younger': Colorectal cancer survivor encourages getting screened early

Posted at 12:38 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 12:38:21-04

INDIANAPOLIS — March is Colorectal Awareness Month and according to the National Cancer Institute colorectal cancer is rising rapidly among young adults. But when people think of colorectal cancer, they typically think of someone older.

Andrea Bauer thought kidney stones were the worst of her worries back in 2016 then she got the news that turned her world upside down.

“I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer when I was 35,” said Bauer.

The diagnosis stunned her since she had no family history of colorectal cancer.

“I did seven months of chemotherapy. And this October I will meet my five-year mark,” said Bauer.

For years Bauer says she knew something was off, but she was misdiagnosed.

“Only you know your body and when you know something is off you have to advocate for yourself,” said Bauer.

She says in her case a colonoscopy wasn’t the go-to procedure because she was so young, but during colorectal awareness month and any other month, she’s urging people to get checked because you are never too young.

“I did meet a young woman who is 21 and has stage 4 colon cancer so it is hitting younger and younger. Our community lost an 18-year-old,” said Bauer.

It’s hitting so close to home, even the American Cancer Society has made some suggestions.

The American Cancer Society has come out and said we need to do something about this. We know it is treatable and curable if caught early. The only way to catch it is through a colonoscopy, so they lowered the age to 45.

Here are some signs to look for.

  • A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss