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Young Adult Colorectal Cancer National Clinical Alert: Part 1

The rate of young adult colorectal cancer has been on the rise in the United States since the mid-1980s. Adults born in the 1990s (now in their 20s) and beyond have double the lifetime risk of colon cancer, and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer, compared to adults born in the 1950s. Currently, approximately 20% of all colorectal cancer cases diagnosed in the United States are patients under the age of 55.

Unfortunately, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer prior to the age of 55 are 58% more likely than older patients to be diagnosed with a more advanced stage of the disease (stage III or IV). This is due to a delay in diagnostic evaluation of symptoms and less access to medical care. Delays in diagnosis, late stage presentation, and limited access to care all contribute to an increase of mortality for young adult colorectal cancer patients. Both the increasing incidence and mortality of young adult colorectal cancer are in sharp contrast to the overall declines in incidence & mortality observed in people over the age of 55.

Patients with these symptoms and signs need to be referred for diagnostic evaluation. To schedule an appointment, contact the Gastro Health Partners location nearest you today.

National Clinical Alert Issued on Early Age Onset Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in an Oncology Nursing News article about how to educate the public about early age onset colorectal cancer.

The article makes note of a national clinical alert co-authored by Dr. Jones urging healthcare providers to get creative about sharing the signs, symptoms and statistics associated with early age onset colorectal cancer.

The national clinical alert is not intended to be limited to just those in the field of gastroenterology. OB-GYNs, as well as those in surgical specialties, adult and pediatric primary care, family and internal medicine, emergency and urgent care departments, occupational medicine, community health centers, and departments of health and healthcare systems worldwide are encouraged to raise awareness about the growing disease.

According to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project founded by Dr. Jones himself, “10% of people diagnosed with colon cancer are under the age of 50 and that number is rising.” When it comes to early age onset colorectal cancer, one’s family history plays a significant role. While everyone is at risk for developing the disease, those with a family history of it are at an even greater risk.

Being knowledgeable about one’s family health history can help to determine the proper time to start screening. On time screening saves lives by detecting and removing polyps in the colon or rectum before they turn into cancer. A screening can also find colon cancer early on, when it is most treatable. The Colon Cancer Prevention Project states that, “when detected early, colon cancer is up to 90% curable.” As an additional preventive measure, healthcare providers are encouraged by the national clinical alert to start implementing early assessments during physical exams as well as cover the basics of digestive health with their patients. 

Talk to your doctor about the right time to get screened by contacting us today.

Read the full article here:

The Colon Cancer Prevention Project

While many know that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America, few are aware that it is also one of the most preventable. In an effort to educate the population about colon cancer prevention, our very own gastroenterologist Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2003.

As a state-based advocacy organization, the Colon Cancer Prevention Project leads the nation in information on colon cancer prevention. Since its establishment, the Colon Cancer Prevention Project has helped to double Kentucky’s screening rates. It is also responsible for cutting the state’s colon cancer mortality rates by 28%.

“Although 50 has been tagged as the time to start your screening, it shouldn’t be the first time you hear about colon cancer,” says Dr. Jones. Knowing the facts can help people determine the right time to get screened. Simply having  a conversation with your family about their history of having polyps removed can save your life.

For example, for those of average risk, age 50 is acceptable. However, for those with a family history of polyp removal, screening as early as 10 years before their family member’s diagnosis could be critical in preventing cancer from developing.  

A “previvor” as the project calls it, is someone who was screened on time. As a result, they found precancerous polyps that were removed before they turned into colon cancer. Hear from real life “previvors” on why you should take ownership of your own health in the video below. Talk to your doctor about the right time to get screened by contacting us today. 

Watch & Save a Life:

Dr. Whitney Jones is a practicing Gastroenterologist, former therapeutic endoscopist and Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville from 1994 until 2017. He joined GHP in 2017 cofounding its new east Louisville division, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Associates, PLLC, alongside Drs. Ashok Kapur and Laszlo Makk.

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: