YOUNG ADULTS WITH BOWEL CANCER

Individuals under 60 are very much susceptible to developing bowel cancer; in fact, bowel cancer among this group is on the increase. Young adults with a family history of bowel cancer are especially at risk. A Bowel Cancer UK survey suggests that in 2009, there were 2,132 people under the age of 50 diagnosed with bowel cancer, compared with 1,698 people in 1999. This is an increase of almost a quarter over the decade. Younger bowel cancer patients (by which they mean, people diagnosed under the age of 50) have a qualitatively different experience of diagnosis, treatment and care. Researches predict that by 2030 bowel cancer will increase for the under 35’s by up to 124% and up to 46% for patients aged 35-49.

Our charity is committed to raising awareness and giving support to young adults about bowel cancer. It is a cause that is very close to our hearts. Sadly, there is little information around for young adults who are diagnosed with bowel cancer. We encourage young adults to make enquiries about bowel cancer in their families, and to be aware of any change in passing stool, unexplained weight loss, stomach cramps and extreme fatigue.

Although screenings are not automatically available for this group, a GP can arrange for one to be carried out if you experience symptoms or have a history of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is a lot easier to treat at its benign stage, so don’t be shy about speaking to your GP. They are there to help.
Being diagnosed with bowel cancer can be a very devastating time for you, your family and friends, but your GP can talk you through what to do next, including therapy, should you need it. You could also get advice on altering your diet and adopting an active lifestyle. Ask as many questions as possible to establish exactly what your body is going through.

You may need to undergo further tests to establish the extent of the growth of the cancer cells. These will often include blood tests, X-rays and a CT scan. An MRI scan, PET scan or ultrasound may also be needed.

Upon receipt of your results, your GP can talk you through the next steps and treatment plan or you may want to speak to a nurse specialist as they know all the up to date info on this. This will be tailored to suit your individual needs. Although, this could be a very stressful and terrifying time, it is important to stay positive and work alongside your GP or nurse specialist to get the ultimate treatment. All patients should be given access to a nurse specialist.

Treatments for bowel cancer are commonly based on surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy techniques. Your treatment will be dependent on the extent and locality of your cancer. It is not unusual to be given one or a combination of these treatments.