Colorectal Cancer Stories

Colorectal Cancer Stories

Colorectal cancer can start either in the colon or the rectum. It makes up about eight percent of all cancer cases in the U.S. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. (NCI) It’s also on the rise for men and women under 50 years old, as many of our stories below will highlight.

New Report: Colon Cancer on the Rise in Younger Adults

January 18, 2024

A new report highlights a worrying 9% increase in colorectal cancer among those under 50. Despite unclear reasons for this rise, factors like genetics, lifestyle, and obesity are considered. Surprisingly, many young patients don’t fit the typical risk profiles, hinting at other causes like environmental factors or microbiome changes. This trend is leading to more late-stage diagnoses in young adults, emphasizing the need for awareness and early screening.

Go directly to our stories covering younger diagnoses.

Dr. Kimmie Ng

Scientists are now working to uncover the causes behind this rise and develop strategies to prevent and treat colorectal cancer in younger age groups. As Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, said, “Research into what the underlying causes are and what the risk factors are, is so important. We need to identify those young people who are at high risk and target them for earlier screening.” Read our interview with Dr. Ng.

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Patient Stories

Explore below for colorectal cancer stories from our community of patients and thrivers who share their experiences with colon and rectal cancer diagnoses and treatments.

Colon Cancer Stories

 

Shannon M., Colon Cancer, Stage 1




Cancer Details:
Found the cancer as a result of her Lynch Syndrome
1st Symptoms: Routine colonoscopy found polyp
Treatment: Partial colectomy

Hugo T., Colon Cancer, Stage 1



Cancer Details: Diagnosed 2 weeks after 5 years remission from testicular cancer
1st Symptoms: Inflamed bowel
Treatment: Subtotal colectomy, immunotherapy

Rachel B., Sigmoid Colon Cancer, Stage 1



Cancer Details: The sigmoid colon (or pelvic colon) is the part of the large intestine that is closest to the rectum
1st Symptoms: Stomach discomfort, nausea, bloating, blood in stool
Treatment: Colectomy

Chris T., Colon Cancer, Stage 2



Cancer Details: Discovered Lynch Syndrome after genetic testing
1st Symptoms: Found the cancer as a result of family history, early colonoscopy
Treatment: Partial colectomy

Shannon C., Colon Cancer, Stage 2A



Cancer Details: Diagnosed at 29, tested positive for Lynch Syndrome
1st Symptoms: Severe pains after eating
Treatment: Partial colectomy
Barbara smiling

Barbara M., Colon Cancer, Stage 3



Cancer Details: Family history wasn’t flagged, should have had colonoscopy earlier
1st Symptoms: Stomach discomfort, difficult to process food
Treatment: Colectomy, Chemo (FOLFOX, CAPOX)

Shelley B., Colon Cancer, Stage 3B



Cancer Details: Had no usual first symptoms, found as a result of routine colonoscopy and endoscopy
1st Symptoms: None
Treatment:Partial colectomy, chemotherapy (FOLFOX)
Lindsay

Lindsay D., Colon Cancer, Stage 4



Cancer Details: Diagnosed at 32, cancer spread to ovary and lung
1st Symptoms: Lump in pelvic area, funny-smelling food, weight loss
Treatment: Chemotherapy, colectomy (surgery)
Lee

Lee J., Colon Cancer, Stage 4, Recurrence



Cancer Details: Recurrence then remission
1st Symptoms: Discovered stage 4 cancer from unrelated CT scan
Treatment: Neoadjuvant chemo (FOLFOX), hemicolectomy (partial colon surgery), adjuvant chemo (FOLFOX), chemo post-recurrence (FOLFIRI), liver surgery

JJ S., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 4



Age at Diagnosis: 27l



1st Symptoms: Abdominal pain, blood in stool



Treatment: Surgery to remove tumor, chemotherapy, clinical trial of Keytruda (pembrolizumab)
Haley P. feature profile

Haley P., Colon Cancer, Stage 3C



Symptoms: Constipation, fatigue, shortness of breath
Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy
Amanda G. feature profile

Amanda G., Colon Cancer, Stage 2A



Symptoms: Gurgly stomach, blood in stool, chronic constipation
Treatment: Surgery (hemicolectomy), chemotherapy (CAPOX), Zarxio
Jason Randall describes his colon cancer journey
Jason R., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 4 Diagnosis: Colorectal Cancer Symptoms: Abdominal pain, constipation, belly button discharge Treatment: Liver surgery, chemotherapy, radiation
Angelica A., Bowel Cancer, Stage 3

Symptoms: Fatigue, anemia, irregular bowel movements, loss of appetite, heavy periods Treatment: Laparoscopy, chemotherapy, partial hysterectomy
Danielle shares her stage 4 metastatic colon cancer
Danielle A., Colorectal Cancer, Metastatic Stage 3 Diagnosis: Stage 3 Colorectal Cancer Symptoms: Abdominal pain, constipationTreatment: Surgery, Chemo
Keith shares his stage 4 colorectal cancer story
Keith H., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 4 Diagnosis: Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer Symptoms: Abdominal painTreatment: Surgery, Chemo
Sherrie shares her stage 4 metastatic breast cancer story
Sherri O., Metastatic Breast Cancer & Colon Cancer Diagnosis: Colon & Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms: Shortness of breath, lump under armpit, not feeling herself Treatment: Chemotherapy, Transfusions
Dania M.

Dania M., Colon Cancer, Stage 4, with Liver and Peritoneal Carcinomatosis



Symptoms: Constipation, diarrhea, terrible bloating, swollen belly, as if pregnant
Treatment: Surgery, immunotherapy (KEYTRUDA)
Stephanie K.

Stephanie K., Colon Cancer, Stage 3



Symptoms: Very bad cramps, bloating, indigestion, burping
Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy (CAPOX)
Jason A. feature profile

Jason A., Colon Cancer, Stage 3B



Symptoms: Abdominal pressure, fatigue, small amounts of blood in stool
Treatment: Surgery (colon resection), chemotherapy (FOLFOX: folinic acid, fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin)
Kelly shares her cancer story
Kelly B. Diagnosis: Stage 3 Colon CancerSymptoms: Blood in stool, cramping, bloating Treatment: Chemo, surgery
Courtney shares her colorectal cancer story
Courtney H. Diagnosis: Stage 1 Colorectal CancerSymptoms: Blood in stool, fatigue Treatment: Chemo, oxaliplatin, capecitabine, surgery
Zykeisha shares her stage 4 colon cancer story
Zykeisha L. Diagnosis: Stage 4 Colon CancerSymptoms: Anemia, stool changes, blood in urine, back painTreatment: Chemo, Avastin, FOLFOX, FOLFIRI, surgery, Neupogen shots
Kyle R.M. Diagnosis: Stage 4 Colon Cancer Symptoms: Constipation, blood in stoolTreatment: Chemo, FOLFOX

Rectal Cancer Stories


Joanna H., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3



Cancer Details: Rectal adenocarcinoma



1st symptoms: Rectal bleeding, bloating, stomach aches



Treatment: FOLFOX chemo, radiation
Catherine

Catherine P., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3



Cancer Details: Rectal adenocarcinoma; 98% of rectal and colon cancers are adenocarcinomas
1st Symptoms: Rectal bleeding, constipation, bloating
Treatment: Fertility treatments, chemo, radiation, tumor resection surgery

Jackie S., Rectal Adenocarcinoma, Stage 3B, Lynch Syndrome



Cancer Details: Rectal adenocarcinoma; 98% of rectal and colon cancers are adenocarcinomas
1st Symptoms: Blood in stool, constipation
Treatment: Chemo, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy
Maria

Maria A., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3C



Cancer Details: 7cm mass found
1st Symptoms: Fatigue, weight loss, fast heart rate, bladder infection
Treatment: Chemo, radiation, surgery for tumor removal

Justine L., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3B/ 4



Cancer Details: Metastasized to stage 4
1st symptoms: Increasing bowel movements (up to 20/day), some rectal bleeding
Treatment: Chemoradiation (oral pill capecitabine + radiation), colectomy, FOLFOX chemo, SBRT radiation, cancer ablation, Y90 (radioembolization)
Amy H. feature profile

Amy H., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3B, Lynch Syndrome



Symptoms: Feeling off, abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, blood in stool, thin stool, massive shift in bathroom habits, exhaustion
Treatment: Radiation, chemotherapy (Xeloda & oxaliplatin), surgery (total proctocolectomy with ileostomy, APR reconstruction, and radical hysterectomy)
Angelica A., Bowel Cancer, Stage 3

Symptoms: Fatigue, anemia, irregular bowel movements, loss of appetite, heavy periods Treatment: Laparoscopy, chemotherapy, partial hysterectomy
Ananda P. feature profile

Ananda P., Rectal Cancer, Stage 3B



Symptoms: Intermittent rectal bleeding
Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy (FOLFOX)
Jelena shares her rectal cancer story

Jelena T., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 3



Symptoms: Blood in stool, change in gas
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery

Colorectal Cancer Stories

Allison

Allison R., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 2C



Age at Diagnosis: 32
1st Symptoms: Extreme fatigue, unexplained weight loss, blood in stool, "blockage" feeling after eating
Treatment: Concurrent adjuvant (oral) chemotherapy + radiation, colectomy, oral chemotherapy
Michelle C. feature profile

Michelle C.



Symptoms: Felt like either a UTI or yeast infection
Treatment: Chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel), surgery (hysterectomy), and radiation
Kelly shares her colorectal cancer story
Kelly S., Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis: Stage 3 Colorectal Cancer Symptoms: Constipation, blood in stool, abnormal-smelling stool, fluctuating appetite, weight lossTreatment: Dostarlimab
Jason shares his colorectal cancer story

Jason R., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 4



Symptoms: Blood in stool, diarrhea, tenesmus, feeling run down
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, HAI pump
Raquel A. feature profile

Raquel A., Colorectal Cancer, Stage 4



Symptoms: Frequent bowel movements, pin-thin stools, mild red blood in stool
Treatment: Chemotherapy (oxaliplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and irinotecan)
Andrea P. Diagnosis: Stage 3 Colorectal Cancer Symptoms:Frequent blood in stool, lower back pain, rectal painTreatment: Chemo, 5-FU, radiation, surgery

Patients In Their 30s and 40s Share Their Earliest Symptoms

In 2024, a concerning trend emerged: colon cancer incidence is rising among adults under 50, particularly those between 30 and 40 years old. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that this demographic is the only one to experience an increase in overall cancer incidence (number of new cases in a year for every 100K people) from 1995 to 2020. Colorectal cancer, once the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths for people under 50, has now become the leading cause for men and the second for women.

Regular screenings for colorectal cancer are crucial for early detection. The most common screening method is a colonoscopy, which allows doctors to examine the entire colon and rectum for polyps or signs of cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Medical Expert Interviews

Dr. Toufic Kachaamy is a gastroenterologist trained in advanced endoscopy, including endoscopic ultrasound, he helps care for patients fighting pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, colon, liver or bile duct cancer at our Phoenix hospital. As Chief of Medicine at City of Hope Phoenix, Dr. Kachaamy has clinical leadership responsibilities for several medical departments and supportive care services.

Toufic Kachaamy,MD



Role: Chief of Medicine and Director of Gastroenterology
Focus: endoscopic oncology
Provider: City of Hope (Phoenix)
Dr. Kimmie Ng

Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH



Role: Gastrointestinal oncologist
Focus: Young-onset colorectal cancer, microbiome
Provider: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston)