By Adedapo Osinowo
The death of Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer is a tragic telling story. It is a poignant reminder of a recent trend which is colorectal cancer in the young (< 40 years old).
This group constitutes a segment of the population that ordinarily will not be screened.
Not surprisingly, he was diagnosed at stage 3 which means that the disease was already advanced and unfortunately the treatment then is at best palliative.
He must have had any of the common symptoms of colorectal cancer which he either ignored or trivialized or worst still his doctors ignored because colorectal cancer is not considered to be common in young people.
Lessons to be learnt from this tragic story are:
- Colorectal cancer is increasingly seen in the young. The reasons for this have not be defined or identified by researchers.
- The risk factors are obesity, sedentary lifestyle, absence of fruits and vegetables in diet and increased consumption of red meat
- The symptoms for colon cancer in the young and elderly are the same. Unfortunately, these symptoms are ignored by young people and their doctors.
We should therefore use this painful situation to keep abreast of all the common symptoms of colorectal cancer.
These red flags or symptoms are not associated with typhoid or malaria. If you have any of these, please see a general surgeon and be comprehensively evaluated.
Paying Attention to Red Flags
“If you have any of what we call the red flag signs, do not ignore your symptoms no matter what your age is, and these are:
- Rectal bleeding
- Change in bowel habits- change in the color, size, shape, narrowing of stool
- Unintentional weight loss of 5kg or more within a month
- Blood in the stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort- feeling bloated, cramps or excessive gas
- Weakness or fatigue
Mitigating your risk by employing the following strategies:
- Eat a healthy diet: increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables and reduce consumption of red meat and fatty meals
- Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
- If you have any of the above warning signs please see a General surgeon (Colorectal).
- Know your family history of cancers. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer you must have a screening colonoscopy
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