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Colorectal cancer on track to become leading cancer killer

Breast Cancer And Hearts
Posted at 12:03 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 12:12:26-04

The Journal of American Medicine expects colorectal cancer to become the highest cancer killer among those between the ages of 18 and 45. 

Of all cancers, colorectal cancer will take the most lives of people under 50 by 2030, the journal predicts.

Joanna Haydon says she had a doctor tell her, “People like you don't get cancer.”

For 18 months she went from doctor to doctor looking for answers. She didn't believe cancer was the culprit to her illness.

“I'm thinking, 'OK, you're right,' like, I have all the right lifestyle choices and now. I’m a vegan. Of course, I won't get cancer because I think that that's what a lot of people think, that it's strictly life choices or poor behavioral choices,” Haydon said. 

At the age of 31, that all changed.  

“I remember after I got diagnosed in May of 2019, just this, shame. I had so much shame of how did I not know I had cancer,” Haydon said. 

“One of the prime themes is when you're 25 or 35 and even 45, colon cancer isn't necessarily on the radar. I don't think that people sometimes understand how common the disease is for everyone,” said Andrea Dwyer, a patient education and research adviser for Fight CRC.

Dwyer is also the director and one of the founding members of the Colorado Cancer Screening Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

In 2018, the American Cancer Society began recommending that people as young as 45 begin regular colorectal cancer screenings. It had previously been recommended that the regular screenings begin at the age of 50.

In 2021, the United States Preventative Services Task Force also changed its guideline.

  “I think there's a lot of debate about if we should be moving the screening guideline for the average risk population even lower than age 45. You know, if found early and at an early stage, the chance of survival is upward of 90%. So, I do think educating providers and patients that following up and getting that colonoscopy is going to be really pivotal for survival," Dwyer said.

There are more than 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States.  

Hayden believes if she would have been screened a year earlier, at age 30, she wouldn't have stage-three cancer.

“I hope that the age is lowered to 30 for colonoscopies and it's not a number one cancer killer,” Hayden said.