A Healthy Response to News about Rising Rates of Colorectal Cancer in Young People

What are readers supposed to do with the news about colorectal cancers? How can the information be used to foster Healthy Survivorship? 

In What Young People Need to Know About Colon Cancer, NYTimes journalist Roni Karyn summarized results of a new study from the American Cancer Society: "Colorectal cancer rates, which had dropped steadily for people born between 1890 and 1950, have been increasing for every generation born since 1950. Experts aren’t sure why." She emphasized, "the absolute risk is still small in younger people," but the increased risk persists as these young people age.

Healthy Survivors can use this information positively by...

  • Learning the warning signs and symptoms of colon cancer
  • Reporting warning signs to your doctors
  • Advocating for yourself, if doctors say you're too young to pursue evaluation of your warning signs, e.g., "I know cancer is very unlikely in my age group. Still, it happens. I believe it's best to check before we can conclude I don't have cancer or other serious cause of my symptoms."
  • Getting a second opinion.

If you ever develop warning signs of something serious, ways to live as fully as possible while undergoing evaluation and waiting for results include...

  • Reining in your imagination, remembering benign conditions can cause similar symptoms
  • Taking comfort in knowing you are doing the right thing
  • Distracting yourself with work and/or activities and people you enjoy

If you learn about warning signs while well, store your knowledge in the back of your mind like an insurance policy. You can know something scary without thinking about it or feeling scared all the time. 

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