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When It Comes To Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer, More Awareness Is Needed

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in a Cure article about the lack of awareness among providers and patients of early-onset colorectal cancer.

Early-onset colorectal cancer affects those younger than 50 years of age. While many don’t think about getting screened for colon cancer until the age of 50, the rates of colorectal cancer in young and middle-aged adults have increased and are predicted to continue to increase. This is due to many factors, including unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, one’s family history and a lack of awareness.

While colorectal cancer is known as a silent and even painless killer, symptoms can include:

  • Blood present in the stool
  • Change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or consistency)
  • Loss of weight
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue

If you have a family history of cancer or polyps, it is urged that you speak to a health care professional about getting screened early. Lifestyle factors that can lead to colorectal cancer include obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, as well as a diet high in red processed meat and low in fresh fruits or vegetables.

According to Dr. Jones, those with a higher sense of awareness tend to be diagnosed at an earlier stage when the cancer is more treatable. Conversely, studies have shown that those with stage 3 and 4 colorectal cancers are among patients that experienced a prolonged diagnostic delay. Therefore, it is recommended that one seek medical help for symptoms right away. While one often delays speaking to a doctor due to embarrassment, this time period is even more prolonged when one factors in the time gap of seeing a primary care physician and then a specialist. “Unless you are aware, you can’t link that to an action, such as being screened, preventing early, behavioral changes,” Jones explained.

Read the full article here:

How Kentucky’s Lifestyle and Genetics Are Contributing To High Colon Cancer Rates

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in a Bowling Green Daily News article about how Kentucky’s lifestyle and genetics are contributing to high colon cancer rates.

The article highlights some alarming statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the nation, and it is the third leading cause of cancer death in women and men.

Lifestyle Causes of Colorectal Cancer Include

  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet high in processed red meat and low in fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Kentucky as the second highest state in the nation for tobacco use. What’s more, over two-thirds of adults in Kentucky are overweight, less than a tenth eat enough fruits and vegetables, and more than a third do not exercise regularly.

In addition to harmful lifestyle habits, a family history of colorectal cancer puts patients at a higher risk for developing the disease themselves.

Dr. Whitney Jones, a gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Health Partners in Louisville is a national expert and frequent speaker on early-age onset colorectal cancer prevention, as well as genetic GI cancer syndrome testing, risk management and communication strategies for population-based cancer prevention.

Founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, an organization dedicated to colon cancer prevention, Dr. Jones is an advocate for utilizing genetic testing to improve patient outcomes and lower cancer-related societal outcomes. The article notes a bill recently passed by Kentucky legislators that requires health insurance to cover genetic tests for cancer when recommended by licensed medical professionals.

DNA testing can help expose those with genetic risks for colorectal cancer and determine the appropriate age for them to begin screening. In his work, Dr. Jones recognizes a correlation between low screening rates and high incidences of colon cancer and mortality rates. “Only one in 10 people get genetic testing before developing cancer. If you know you were going to have a car wreck next Thursday, what would you do?”

Read the full article here: