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Savannah doctor talks about increased risk of colorectal cancer in millennials

Savannah doctor talks about increased risk of colorectal cancer in millennials
Updated: Mar. 3, 2017 at 5:28 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah, it's time to Get Your Rear in Gear in support of colorectal cancer awareness.

Saturday, March 4 is the big race, which is dedicated to WTOC's Mike Manhatton who died of colon cancer three years ago.

While the topic may be taboo for some, this isn't a cancer you can afford to ignore at any age.

"You just don't think of rectal cancer in a 25-year-old," said Dr. George Aragon, Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Candler.

However, it is happening more often.  A new study by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute shows not only are people getting colorectal cancer at a younger age, but if you were born in the 1990's, your chances of getting colon cancer are twice as high and your chances of getting rectal cancer are four times as high as someone born in the 1950's.

"Still, the majority of cancers are in 50 and above, so we're probably not going to adjust the screening age quite yet," said Dr. Aragon.

That's why awareness is key.

"If we can diagnose it at stage one, which is very early stage cancer, you have a great five-year survival, 90% survival, but unfortunately we're diagnosing these a little bit later," he said.

Carie Hicks was just 34-years-old when she was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer.

"I was shocked being so young," she said.

When she finally told her OBGYN about her symptoms, she was immediately referred for further testing. It was something she had initially just written off as nothing serious.

"Something that you may think, 'Oh I probably just have hemorrhoids. I've had children,'" she said.

Now that she is cancer-free, she is using her voice to make others aware. She is also hitting the pavement for the Get Your Rear In Gear 5K.

"I'm really, really excited that more people are paying more attention to that area of our bodies," she said.

"Get Your Rear in Gear is trying to get this big campaign to get 80 percent screened by 2018," said Dr. Aragon.

Carie hopes to see you out at the walk and says if you suspect something is wrong, don't be embarrassed to ask your doctor about it.

"Just one little question might save your life," she said.

For signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer or other questions, click here: https://www.sjchs.org/health-library/health-library?&parm1=FAQColorectalCancer&parm2=35&doc=true

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