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Colorectal cancer on the rise for those under 50

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 7:41 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

Colonoscopies continue to be one of the best ways to find certain forms of cancer. In this week’s Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty has more on the signs and symptoms to watch for and who’s most at risk.

Colonoscopies are typically recommended beginning at age 50, but can be done earlier, if you have a family history or other health concerns. Dr. Tyler Bernaiche says the rate of colorectal cancer for older patients has been declining.

“It’s important to state that that is for patients that are older than 50 years old. The incidents or the new case rate for people younger than 50 has actually been going up the past few years. And that was one reason why the American Cancer Society is now - they have a qualified, is what they call it, recommendation for screenings to start at 45 years old for patients who maybe have some of those risk factors and things like that,” says Dr. Tyler Bernaiche.

“I think the big things are things like rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, or pain - rectal pain, things like that,” says Dr. Bernaiche.

Bernaiche says colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States.

“We easily talk about things like breast cancer and prostate cancer and lung cancer, but for whatever reason, people are a little bit worried about talking about colorectal cancer. And that sometimes leads to people who have pain or itching or bleeding, and they think ‘oh, it’s probably just hemorrhoids, you know, you don’t really need to talk about that.’ But unfortunately we’re seeing patients in their 30s presenting with aggressive, advanced rectal cancers now, and so that’s something that really needs to be considered. And I think it’s important just for people to start talking about these things,” he says.

He says colorectal cancer is 100 percent preventable, if issues are caught early.

“You don’t just grow a cancer in your colon. First you grow something called a polyp or a growth. Then that thing becomes a cancer eventually. So if you can find it and take it out, you’ve prevented yourself from having a cancer,” says Dr. Bernaiche.

A Fort Fairfield native, Bernaiche divides his time between Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle. He encourages everyone to listen to their primary care providers and get screenings, as recommended. And if you are having issues, be sure to consult with your doctor. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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