Recommended early colon cancer screening age lowered as rates in younger people rise

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 3:55 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society stated colon cancer is hitting younger populations and it’s why the recommended screening age has been lowered from 50 to 45 years old.

For one Missouri man, he was barely over that mark, and it was almost too late.

“I was just having some issues going to the bathroom sometimes,” said Travis Haynes.

Haynes, who works as a plumber, recently discovered he had some plumbing issues of his own.

“There was also some bleeding,” said Haynes. “I thought it was hemorrhoids. I had that issue with that about 10 years ago.”

Soon Travis learned it was much worse than hemorrhoids.

“I got the scope done and they told me it was colon cancer,” said Haynes, who was diagnosed with colon cancer at 46 years young. “I was very surprised. It was a pretty hard blow.”

Travis is not alone.

A new report from the American Cancer Society found colorectal cancer rates have nearly doubled in people younger than 55. Colorectal cancer rates in 1995 were recorded at 11 percent. Fast-forward to 2019 and rates jumped to 20 percent. Sixty percent of new cases of colorectal cancers were detected at advanced stages.

Travis was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer.

“I quickly realized his surgery needs to happen right away,” said Dr. Robert Amajoyi.

Amajoyi specializes in robotic colorectal surgery at St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City.

“It’s almost like playing a video game,” said Dr. Amajoyi.

It’s far from a game, but Amajoyi says when it comes to colorectal surgery, the robot is a game changer.

“You can see all of the organs right in your face, it’s almost like having your head right inside the belly,” said Amajoyi. “The robot has small instruments because there’s smaller instruments, there’s smaller incisions.”

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Amajoyi said this is particularly effective when operating on men. Men are not child bearers, so typically their pelvis is smaller.

“I have better access to the tissue, so there’s a lot less damage to adjacent organs.”

Which translates to faster healing for patients.

“I almost feel like I didn’t have surgery,” said Travis.

He did, and he’s completely cancer free.

“I’m super blessed,” he said. “When I came in none of the cancer had moved anywhere.”

Now he’s got bragging rights for a second chance at life, one with a sci-fi spin.

“I had surgery by robot,” laughed Travis. “I was hoping there was going to be laser beams. I don’t think there was.”

“The most important thing is to make sure you get screened,” said Amajoyi. “There’s a reason why colon cancer is called the silent killer, there are no symptoms.

Amajoyi said by the time you see symptoms, it’s often too late.

He advises if you notice changes in bowel habits, bloating, constipation or bleeding, you are encouraged to contact your physician immediately.

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