Educate patients and doctors for earlier cancer diagnoses
I’m writing to address the recent National Cancer Institute study on the rise of early-age-onset colorectal cancer [“Colorectal cancer rates rise in U.S. millenials,” front page, March 1]. My daughter was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer at age 24, just two years removed from her college varsity field hockey experience. Seven years later, she remains thankfully healed.
Teenagers and young adults are not the only ones for whom colorectal symptoms may go unrecognized or be ignored, but too often when such patients share concerns, doctors allow a low suspicion of cancer to cloud their judgment. My daughter and I are both active in national advocacy efforts, and we hear story after heart-rending story of symptomatic individuals younger than 50 who did not get a thorough, timely evaluation. As a result, the disease upon diagnosis is often, sadly, more progressed. Timely referral to a specialist can help with earlier detection and increase survival rates.
Parents can play a critical role in teaching their children about symptoms and making healthy lifestyle choices. In concert with better-informed primary care providers, more young people can be allowed the chance to live their full lives.
Timely referral to a specialist can help with earlier detection.