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Colon Cancer Targeting Younger Patients

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Each year more than 120,000 patients are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. “It is the third most common cancer and incidence in men and approaching to be the second most common in women,” said Dr. Syed Zafar, an oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health.

A diagnosis that recent studies show is affecting a younger population. “We’ve seen a tremendous rise in young folks, in people less than 50,” he said.

While the reasons aren’t clear, doctors say there are many factors that could put younger patients at risk for developing colorectal cancer. “There are many causes, certain causes related to some inherited genetic syndromes,” said Dr. Zafar.

But a patient’s diet could also put them at risk for colorectal cancer. “There are certain carcinogens, say for example in charred food, barbequed and grilled and smoked foods, other preserved foods there are also some carcinogens that can cause some early carcinogenesis in the colon,” he said.

If patients don’t have a family history of colorectal cancer, a colonoscopy screening is recommended by age 50, unless patients start to develop symptoms.

Symptoms can include unintentional weight loss, a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool; all are warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored. “Screening is the most appropriate intervention that improves survival, reduces the development of cancer,” said Dr. Zafar.

A colonoscopy screening looks for polyps. If any are found, surgeons can remove them, so they don’t develop into cancer. A few ways to prevent people of all ages from being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/

Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.

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