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Brittney Waldrop 32, female, patient

How did you discover your diagnosis? How old were you at the time? Did you have symptoms? 

I was 31 years young when diagnosed. I went in for my first ever colonoscopy and they found one polyp that was cancerous. I had symptoms for about 5 years, but they were unfortunately overlooked by many doctors. I experienced extreme exhaustion; I could drink 8 cups of coffee a day and still go to sleep! I also occasionally had bloody stools, but they were bright red instead of the black they tell you to look for. Doctors kept saying that it was just hemorrhoids but didn’t look into it any further. If they did, maybe I wouldn’t be stage 4 at this point! It could’ve been caught sooner!

 

Did you have any prior knowledge about colon cancer before you were diagnosed? For instance, did you know about the symptoms and factors that lead to a higher risk of CRC? Did you know your family history?

I did not know anything and I do not have a family history of colon cancer.

 

Has your experience impacted your lifestyle? If so, what are some changes you’ve made?

Yes, it made me realize that life is short, and to live each day to the fullest! I’m weaker than I used to be, so I’ve been slowly trying to build my strength back up as well. 

 

It’s great that you’ve been taking the steps to regain your strength! Is there anything specific that you’ve been doing for this?

I have been walking, riding my stationary bike, reading my daily religion book, stretching and taking wheatgrass shots daily!

 

Is there someone or something that you have leaned on for support during this time?

Facebook support groups, my family & friends, and the hospital that I received care from.

 

What advice would you give to others who are experiencing the same situation as you?

Breathe, it’s going to be okay!

 

For more information related to colon cancer contact us today: www.coloncancerfoundation.org

A new law passed during the Indiana General Assembly’s 2020 session now requires insurance companies to cover colonoscopies at age 45 instead of the previously recommended 50. The law comes two years after the American Cancer Society modified their guidelines for colon cancer screenings.

In a study published in 2017 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that from the mid-1980s through 2013, colorectal cancer incidence rates in adults age 55 years and older were declining while incidence rates for adults between the ages of 20 and 49 were increasing. It is speculated that the increase in colorectal cancer incidents in young adults is attributed to the fact that screenings were previously not recommended for those under 50.

Implications

It is estimated that there will be around 104,000 newly diagnosed cases of colon cancer and around 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2020. Almost 18,000 of these cases are estimated to be diagnosed in adults younger than 50. The American Cancer Society estimates that among these numbers, 3,410 will be Indiana residents. Inspired by these statistics, the new Indiana law allows for cases to be diagnosed at an earlier age since screenings are now covered for those 45 years and older. Rep. Brad Barrett, who drafted the law, emphasized its benefits by explaining that insurance costs could potentially decrease if people are diagnosed at an early stage since “the cost of treatment will be less than if it had been caught at a later stage.” The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer that has been detected early is 90%.

At the virtual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in May/June 2020, promising results from the interim analysis of phase 3 data from the KEYNOTE-177 trial were presented during the plenary session. First-line treatment of a subset of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab doubled the median progression-free survival (PFS) compared to patients treated with standard-of-care chemotherapy. This has now led to an FDA approval for the drug.

Trial Results

KEYNOTE-177 was designed as a global, multicenter, open-label, active-controlled, randomized trial that compared treatment of 307 previously untreated patients with microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) mCRC. Mismatch repair is an inherent property of cells that allows them to correct DNA replication errors, and dMMR cell lack this process, resulting in mutations in the DNA. dMMR cells with alterations in short, repetitive DNA sequences are called MSI-H.  Patients were randomized to receive first-line pembrolizumab alone at 200 mg every 3 weeks for up to 2 years or investigator’s choice chemotherapy: FOLFOX (fluorouracil [5-FU], leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) or FOLFIRI (5-FU, leucovorin, and irinotecan) every 2 weeks, with or without bevacizumab or cetuximab.

This was a crossover trial, meaning patients on chemotherapy could cross over to receive pembrolizumab for up to 35 cycles if their disease had progressed. Primary end points were PFS and overall survival (OS); objective response rate (ORR) was the secondary endpoint.

Median PFS was 16.5 months in the pembrolizumab group and 8.2 months in the chemotherapy group. Pembrolizumab showed a 40% reduction in the risk of disease progression (P=0.0002); PFS rates were 55% vs 37% for pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, respectively, at 12 months, and 48% vs 19%, respectively, at 24 months. ORR were 43.8% and 33.1%, respectively. While the median duration of response was 10.6 months for chemotherapy (2.8-37.5 months), it had not been reached with pembrolizumab (2.3-41.4 months). Complete responses were achieved in 11.1% and 3.9% patients receiving pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, partial responses were achieved in 32.7% vs 29.2%, respectively.

Only 22% of patients in the pembrolizumab arm had treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) compared to 66% in the chemotherapy arm. One TRAE death was reported in the chemotherapy arm.

The study is ongoing and OS data are expected to be presented at a later time.

FDA Approval

The above results have led to the FDA approval of pembrolizumab in previously untreated patients with MSI-H/dMMR mCRC. Importantly, this is the first immunotherapy to receive FDA-approval as first line of care in this patient population.

You can help significantly decrease your chances of colorectal cancer through proactive action related to your diet.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Helps Prevent Colon Cancer

One of the best things you can do is to get yourself to a healthy weight and maintain it within a designated range. By maintaining a healthy weight you won’t just be proactively protecting yourself from colon cancer, you’ll also be making an investment in your overall health.

What to Eat to Beat Colon Cancer and Help Prevent it

Some of the best foods to be eating to lower your chances of contracting colon cancer include, chicken, fish, fruits, and whole grains.

Foods that you should avoid eating in excess include red meats and anything that is rich in refined sugars.

The Link Between Obesity and Colon Cancer

A strong link has been identified between obesity and colon cancer. Diet choices have a profound impact on how susceptible you are to contracting colon cancer.

It’s important to remember that making healthy choices with what you eat and how much affects much more than your susceptibility to contracting colon cancer. Your diet affects your overall health. It’s also important to remember that portion size is just as important as the food that you choose to eat. You can eat red meat without increasing your chance of getting colon cancer if you do it in moderation.

Someone who enjoys a steak every couple of weeks or so for dinner with a salad is not going to have a particularly high risk of getting colon cancer. Conversely, someone who eats steak, pork, sausage, and bacon in large quantities every single day or even every other day, will greatly increase their chances of having colon cancer.

Eating red meats in small amounts and in limited frequency is perfectly fine. No one needs to be panicking about eating a steak every now and again. No matter what you eat, your portion size is vital. Larger portion sizes are unhealthy and will put weight on fast.

You shouldn’t commit to a healthy diet just to decrease your chances of contracting colon cancer, you should want to eat healthy to feel better about yourself and increase your overall health. If you exercise and maintain a healthy diet, you won’t just be limiting your chances of getting colon cancer. You will feel better, and eliminate your susceptibility to countless other health problems.

How Does a Poor Diet Increase Your Chances of Contracting Colon Cancer?

Some of you might be wondering exactly how a poor diet increases your chances of contracting colon cancer. Obviously foods that are rich in fats aren’t good for you, but why does such delicious food have to make you more susceptible to such a horrible disease?

Studies have shown that when mice were fed a diet consisting of foods that were high in fats, they exhibited aggressive cell growth of stem-like cells that encourage mutation. This aggressive cell growth is typically coupled with the development of cancerous tumors along the intestine.

The unfortunate mice who were tested offer us invaluable insights into the factors that affect one’s chances of developing colon cancer. Their sacrifice, while trivial compared to the totality of scientific inquiry, is significant and it can save lives, human lives.

Further Recommendations

With so much information out there on the internet, it can be difficult to distinguish genuinely useful information from inaccurate drivel. For example, fiber supplements and antioxidant vitamins do not reduce one’s chances of having colon cancer, nor does it affect polyps.

Calcium, on the other hand, does have an effect on polyps and helps reduce polyp recurrence. Another thing that can help you is regular exercise. If you’re going to make the effort to maintain a healthy diet, you should double down and add exercise to the mix.

By exercising, eating healthy, and consuming the recommended amount of calcium, you can reduce your chances of contracting colon cancer significantly. Although these lifestyle changes can give you much better odds, it’s still imperative that you schedule regular screenings. If you aren’t being screened for colon cancer, you can still contract if and all of your efforts will be for naught, especially if it isn’t detected early on, hence the importance of regular screenings.

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen organizations from across the globe – who individually have made a significant impact in the fight to end colorectal cancer – are joining together in solidarity #atadistance to let their collective communities know that even in the wake of a global pandemic they are unified in and fiercely committed to saving, improving, and extending the lives of millions at risk for or living with the world’s third cancer killer.
‎#InThisTogether‎, #AllInThisTogether

On Tuesday, June 9th, these organizations will collectively celebrate and lift up the over 4.6 million colorectal cancer survivors around the world and reach out to the thousands who are newly diagnosed every day to offer a message of hope.

Colorectal cancer hasn’t stopped for COVID-19. “We know patients and caregivers affected by this disease need our support now more than ever.”Cindy Borassi, Colon Cancer Foundation, “And, we are here to help those most affected by CRC navigate cancer in the weeks and months to come.”

 AliveAndKickn                                                          Aliveandkickn.org

Beat Liver Tumors                                                    beatlivertumors.org

Blue Hat Foundation                                                bluehatbowtie.org

Colorectal Cancer Canada                                      colorectalcancercanada.com

Colon Cancer Coalition                                            coloncancercoalition.org

Colon Cancer Foundation                                       coloncancerfoundation.org

Colon Cancer Prevention Project                           coloncancerpreventionproject.org/

Colon Cancer Stars                                                  colonstars.org

Colorectal Cancer Alliance                                      ccalliance.org

Colontown                                                                 colontown.org

Fight Colorectal Cancer                                           fightcrc.org

GI Cancers Alliance                                                  GICancersAlliance.org

Michael’s Mission                                                     michaelsmission.org

Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation  minnesotacolorectal.org

The Raymond Foundation                                       TheRaymondFoundation.org

The Colon Club                                                         colonclub.org

The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation    wunderglofoundation.org

 

If you have recently had a colorectal cancer diagnosis or need a screening, learn more about financial assistance programs that may alleviate some of your medical bills. The Blue Hope Financial Assistance program helps low-income individuals reduce the burden of testing and treatment costs.

The Blue Hope Financial Assistance program offers low-cost screenings for colonoscopies and FIT tests, $300 stipends to assist with screenings or $200 to help with colorectal cancer treatment costs.

To qualify for a low-cost colonoscopy, you must be uninsured or underinsured and have a total income below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. To be eligible for a stipend, you must be uninsured or underinsured and have a total household income of less than $75,000. If you have received assistance from the program in the past, you may not apply again.

The program does not exclude applicants based on age or genetic factors, so encourage your loved ones to apply if they qualify for the Blue Hope Financial Assistance program.

Learn more about the Blue Hope Financial Assistance program and apply at the Colon Cancer Alliance. Discover more resources on financial assistance and get the tools and support you need online.

Additional resources:

https://www.cancercare.org/financial_assistance

https://www.panfoundation.org/index.php/en/patients/assistance-programs/colorectal-cancer

https://www.ccalliance.org/patient-family-support/financial-assistance-programs

 https://www.cancer.org/content/cancer/en/treatment/support-programs-and-services/patient-lodging/hope-lodge.html

https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en

 https://www.allysonwhitney.org/grants/

https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/resources

 https://www.patientadvocate.org/explore-our-resources/national-financial-resource-directory/

 

When it comes to colorectal cancer, various factors affect your risk for developing this deadly disease, including your ethnicity. African Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age than Caucasian or Hispanics.

 

Why are African Americans More Likely to Develop Colorectal Cancer?

Multiple factors affect one’s likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, African Americans are more likely to have a predisposition to colorectal cancer due to genetic makeup. Mutations in the KRAS gene, which affect a cell’s ability to repair errors in DNA replication, are more abundant in African Americans. 

 

Are African-Americans Less Likely to Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer?

African Americans are less likely to get screened for colorectal cancer, which is attributed to an increase in colorectal cancer mortality rates. According to recent research, medical mistrust may contribute to a decrease in screenings for African Americans. 

 

How Can I Convince My Friends to Get Screened?

Ask your friends if they are abiding by the recommended screening guidelines. The American Cancer Society recommends starting screenings at 45-year-old for those with normal risk. Learn more about colorectal cancer screenings and get tested today.

 

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. While the cancer often affected those over 50-years-old in the past, colon cancer is increasing in young adults at an alarming rate. Learn more about why early-onset colon cancer is on the rise for those under the age of 50 and what you can do to combat the deadly cancer.

 

How Many People Will Develop Colon Cancer in 2019?

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 145,600 new cases of colon cancer this year. Fifty-one thousand and twenty deaths are predicted to happen due to this disease. Young adults will contribute to these numbers, despite decreasing rates of colon cancer in those over 50-years-old.

 

What Factors Have Lead to an Increase in Colon Cancer in Adults?

One of the most significant factors in colon cancer increasing in young adults is the lack of screening. Until recently, the American Cancer Society recommended that standard screening starts at 50-years-old if you do not have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors. However, they changed their screening recommendations to start at 45-years-old to accommodate for the higher risk of colon cancer in young adults.

One of the significant concerns with early-onset colon cancer is the amount of time between the diagnoses and treatment; this can often lead to a higher fatality rate for those that do not discover they have the deadly disease. If you have any questions or concerns about colorectal cancer screenings, reach out to your primary doctor.

 

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

If you are worried about colon cancer, learn more about early-onset colon cancer. Convince your loved ones to get screened at 45-years-old if they are at average risk and earlier if they have a family history of colon cancer.

Let’s face it: we’ve all been there before with gastrointestinal issues. Chances are that you’ve encountered some of the symptoms of early onset colorectal cancer. However, do you know when to chalk your symptoms up to a temporary situation or whether it’s time to go to the doctor? Learn more about the early symptoms of colorectal cancer and discover whether you should get tested.

 

A change your bowel habits

If your bowel movement schedule changes drastically over a few days, you should see your family practice physician to know if you are at risk of colorectal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, if you usually have a bowel movement three times a day but now are only going once you should be concerned about the change in your bowel movements.

 

Blood in your stool that is bright red or black

Any sign of blood in your stool is usually not a good sign when it comes to your intestinal health. Bright red or black blood is an early sign of colorectal cancer and should be discussed with your doctor.

 

Diarrhea and constipation

Two of the more common symptoms of colorectal cancer, diarrhea and constipation often come in pairs. If you have a tumor in your bowel, you are likely to face constipation and then diarrhea when the contents are finally passes.

 

Frequent gas, bloating or cramps

While it is normal to have some of these symptoms, excessive gas, bloating or cramping may mean you are at risk for colorectal cancer. One way you to try to decrease gas is to watch your diet. Foods high in fiber, carbonated beverages and dairy may increase gas, so consider cutting those foods out to see if they decrease how often you pass gas.

 

If you have any of these early symptoms of colorectal cancer, learn about how to screen for colon cancer. The earlier you screen, the better your chances are of fighting this deadly disease. Make an appointment with your family practice doctor today to discuss colorectal cancer.

 

This month, honor the thousands of colon cancer patients, survivors, and champions by spreading awareness regarding colorectal cancer during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Since 2000, the colorectal cancer community has mobilized during the month of March to raise awareness, increase education and convince loved ones to get screened. There are multiple ways to get involved during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, starting with learning more about colorectal cancer.

Get educated about colorectal cancer

While colorectal cancer in adults over 50-years-old has declined, colorectal cancer is on the rise among younger generations. Today, even teenagers are being diagnosed at alarmingly greater rates. Around 13,500 people under the age of 50 will become diagnosed with colon cancer. One of the largest issues that screenings do no begin until 50, so these diagnoses will often become late-stage diagnoses. Make sure to have the conversation about colorectal cancer with your loved ones and your doctors earlier than later.

Wear blue to show your support

March 1 is officially Dress in Blue Day, but you can wear blue all month long to show support for colorectal cancer survivors and patients. Encourage your workplace and friends to wear blue to get the conversation about colorectal cancer started. Make sure to post to social media and tag the Colon Cancer Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Participate in the 16th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge

Join us for the 16th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge on March 24 to show support for those with colorectal cancer and raise funds for the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation. We are ecstatic to host the challenge this year at the Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. In 2018, an estimated 135,000 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. If caught early enough, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. With the 16th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge, we can work together to reduce these fatalities. Whether you participate in the 5K or spearhead fundraising efforts among your friends, you are helping the Colon Cancer Foundation to improve the life of current patients, survivors and future patients of this deadly disease. No matter what distance you cover, you will make up ground in the race to prevent colorectal cancer.

Whether you choose to dress in blue or attend the 16th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge — we hope you do both — make sure to show your support during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Even after the month of March, you can help us fight colorectal cancer with the “Eighty by 2018.” Take the pledge to get screened,  choose a healthy way of eating and lead a  physically active life.

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