We say that age 50 is the time to get serious about colon cancer prevention, but in reality, it's never too soon. With certain risk factors, people under 50 – and even as young as in their 20s and 30s – have a higher chance of developing colon cancer.

For example, African Americans have higher incidence rate of colon cancer than any other racial group. People who have a family history of colon cancer or have colitis or Crohn’s disease are also at a higher risk. Even your diet, obesity, cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol use can be factors.

Young-onset colon cancer is on the rise, and patients are often misdiagnosed. Therefore, it’s important to know what to look for. Symptoms my include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bowel never feels empty
  • Blood in your stool
  • Persistent cramps, gas or pain
  • Persistent full or bloated feeling

If you have any of the risk factors described above and are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Cary Gastroenterology is a specialist in gastro-intestinal care, and we do colon cancer screenings at all of our Triangle locations – Raleigh, Cary and Holly Springs. We're here to help.