Colon cancer signs and risk factors to watch out for

Colon cancer signs and risk factors to watch out for

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Christopher Williams, 39, was shocked by his recent colon cancer diagnosis. Christopher Williams, 39, was shocked by his recent colon cancer diagnosis.
"It ended up being stage four. So, it started in my colon, and spread to my liver and a couple small nodules in my lungs," Christopher Williams said. "It ended up being stage four. So, it started in my colon, and spread to my liver and a couple small nodules in my lungs," Christopher Williams said.
After chemotherapy and two surgeries, Williams is hoping a CT scan scheduled soon will show he is cancer free. After chemotherapy and two surgeries, Williams is hoping a CT scan scheduled soon will show he is cancer free.
"Abdominal pain, especially in the abdomen, bleeding from your rectum or colon, any of those things should put you on alert and have you see your primary doctor," said Dr. Keith Gray. "Abdominal pain, especially in the abdomen, bleeding from your rectum or colon, any of those things should put you on alert and have you see your primary doctor," said Dr. Keith Gray.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - More and more young people are being diagnosed with colon cancer.

The latest research doesn't pinpoint an exact reason, but locally, Dr. Keith Gray, a surgical oncologist with UT Medical Center, says there are some risk factors you can control.

Christopher Williams, 39, was shocked by his recent colon cancer diagnosis.

"It ended up being stage four. So, it started in my colon, and spread to my liver and a couple small nodules in my lungs," he said.

After chemotherapy and two surgeries, Williams is hoping a CT scan scheduled soon will show he is cancer free.

Before his diagnosis, Williams noticed two main symptoms of colon cancer.

"Abdominal pain, especially in the abdomen, bleeding from your rectum or colon, any of those things should put you on alert and have you see your primary doctor," said Gray.

Other signs to pay attention to are losing weight when you're not trying to and other changes in your health.

The big question is why are more and more young people like Williams being diagnosed?

There is no clear cut answer, but Dr. Gray says diet and exercise can play a big role, and busy young adults need to pay attention.

"They're eating on the run," said Dr. Gray, "which leads to increased fat, increased red meat, increase in processed foods; all of which are risk factors for colorectal cancer."

He says there are three risk factors you can do something about:

  • Get more exercise.
  • Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you have every day.
  • If you smoke, quit.

Williams is making changes, including cutting sugar in his diet and keeping a positive outlook.

"I'm feeling great," he said. "I'm feeling very good."

The one risk factor you cannot control is family history. Be sure your doctor knows about that.

A colon cancer screening event is being held at UT Medical Center on Saturday, March 8 in observance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Screening is recommended for adults age 50 and older, or for individuals who have an immediate family history of colorectal cancer.

Health insurance will be accepted at the event, but space is limited. To schedule a screening, call (865) 305-5581.

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