Revealing study shows colon cancer on the rise in millennials

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It’s a procedure many dread to have done – a colonoscopy – usually recommended around the age of 45 to 50. But right now, doctors are urging the younger generation to pay close attention to signs in their bodies.

The urgency comes after a revealing finding in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which shows rates of colon cancer among people ages 20 to 39 are on the rise in both men and women.

“In many ways, I thought they were healthier. They know better of how to take care of themselves. So, it’s worrisome to think even still cancer is on the rise," says Nicola Thomas-Botwood, a parent.

Doctors say it’s explainable because millennials rarely get screened and genetic cancers occur more in the younger population. Obesity can also play a huge factor. However, there are telling signs to be on the lookout for.

“Blood in the stool. That’s abnormal, most of the time that’s due to hemorrhoids. But, certainly persistent, unexplained bleeding would be number one," says Dr. Gregory FitzHarris, colorectal surgeon at Sentara CarePlex.

Doctors say there are ways that you can reduce your risk of getting the disease by changing up your daily routines, like exercising daily and having a healthy diet filled with a lot of fiber.

“Reducing red meat but increasing fruits and vegetables. Fiber is also good because it also promotes good bowel habits," says FitzHarris.

Doctors, like FitzHarris, say it’s always a good idea to be proactive and get checked out before any symptoms occur.

In February, News 3 took viewers behind the scenes of Kurt Williams' first colonoscopy. Kurt brought awareness to the importance of getting a colonoscopy and allowed our cameras to follow along with him through the prep and procedure.