Colon Cancer in Young Adults

Doctor’s advice for young adults

The benefits of any screening tests must be weighed against the risks of the tests themselves. Risks may include anxiety, pain or other side effects. And screening isn’t perfect. Sometimes screening misses cancer, and sometimes it finds something suspicious that turns out to be harmless, but must be checked out through additional tests that also carry risks.

The American Cancer Society recommends colon cancer screening begin at age 45 for people at average risk (This is a new recommendation as of May 2018). But some people have certain risk factors that make them more likely to develop colorectal cancer, and to get it at an earlier age. This may mean they should start screening earlier or get tested more often than other people.

How can you reduce your risk?

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
    Eat a lot of healthy food, mostly vegetables and fruits, and avoid unhealthy foods, especially desserts, snacks, sugar, soda and other sugary drinks. Eat less red meat (beef, pork or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some lunch meats). And be sure to get regular physical activity. You’ll feel better and you may lower your risk for colon cancer, other cancers, and many other diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
  • Find out your family history.
    You may have to do some work to learn who has been diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer and their age of diagnosis. It’s also important to know if you have a family history of other colon problems that can increase risk.
  • Take any symptoms seriously.
    There is no such thing as normal rectal bleeding. If you notice blood, a change in the color or size of your stool, a new pain or a change in your bowel habits, get checked by a doctor.

Don's Story

Meet Don and listen as he talks about his symptoms, his delay in seeking answers and what he would do differently if he could. Cancer can affect anyone at any age. You’re not immune because you’re young or have no family history. If you suspect something is not right, talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Tips for keeping your colon happy
  • Follow a high-fiber diet (whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables)
  • Stay well hydrated with water
  • Limit red and processed meats. Choose meat-free meals when possible.
  • Limit alcohol to 1 or fewer drinks per day for women and 2 or fewer drinks per day for men
  • Use anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger
Six meals your colon will love!
  1. Coconut curry with ginger and turmeric soup
  2. Lentil vegetable soup
  3. Berry goat cheese salad
  4. Red lentil chili
  5. Arugula, chickpea and carrot salad with wheat berries
  6. Broccoli salad