Colon cancer survivor, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago talks about signs, symptoms, screening and the American Cancer Society

CHICAGO (WLS) – The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, more than 106,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer.

Nearly 45,000 more will be told they have rectal cancer.

The number of cases is decreasing in the elderly. Dr. Sonia Kupfer, associate professor and director of gastrointestinal cancer risk and prevention at the University of Chicago Medicine, says much of that is likely due to screening. But cases are on the rise for those under 50.

“In fact, recently the US Services Task Force reduced the general population screening age to 45 (from 50) in response to this alarming trend,” Kupfer said.

She said colon cancer symptoms include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. Still, she pointed out that there are other reasons for these symptoms as well. She urged people to get screened saying “colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps and if we can remove those polyps they have no chance of turning into colorectal cancer.” Kupfer stressed that they were still performing colonoscopies during the pandemic, taking the necessary safety precautions.

Candace Henley is a colon cancer survivor and survivor leader of the Blue Hat Foundation, which works to raise awareness for colorectal cancer.

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She says cancer doesn’t talk about it enough. “And the fact that by 2030 colon cancer in the 20-49 age group is expected to be the leading cause of cancer death means we don’t talk about it enough. And I’m advocating about it 18 years since my own diagnosis.” Henley also urged people to have conversations with family members about illnesses that run in the family. She said, “Family secrets kill families.” Henley said talking about these issues can save lives.

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And Henley is a patient advocate with:


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