Thousand Oaks Proctology

Thousand Oaks Proctology

Dr. David B. Rosenfeld, M.D.

Hemorrhoids | Colonoscopy | Proctology

341 S Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91361

Too Young For Colorectal Cancer? Think Again!

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Too Young For Colorectal Cancer Think Again

This story wouldn’t be so sad if it were the only case.  Unfortunately it has happened more than once.   Twelve years ago, a 42 year old successful woman came to see me for bleeding.  I treated her hemorrhoids and requested she come back in 6 weeks for a colon evaluation.  She showed up 2 years later, at the age of 44 with more bleeding.  I did a short scope in the office and found a large and almost obstructing, rectal cancer.  When I gave her the news that she had rectal cancer she was stunned and replied, “you know, you told me to come back to have my colon checked 2 years ago and I didn’t follow up as I should have”.  Here was a young patient with rectal cancer.  She underwent extensive chemoradiation therapy and then I performed her surgery to remove the tumor, the rectum, part of her colon and put the bowels back together.  She required a temporary ileostomy as the colon was sewn close to the anus.  She continued with 3 more months of chemotherapy.   After the chemotherapy ended I performed the surgery to reverse her ileostomy.  The whole process from start to finish took 12 months. Fortunately she is still alive and cancer free.  It will be 10 years from her diagnosis this June.

When I see a young patient with bleeding, even if due to hemorrhoids, fissures, or other benign conditions, I always recommend a colonoscopy.   It is never a simple decision for a young patient to undergo an invasive test, especially when they consider that they are so young and have such a small risk of cancer.  Truth is, we are seeing more colorectal cancer in young patients than in the past because young patients can have polyps which can lead to colorectal cancer.   I am not worried the young patient has cancer; I am concerned about colon polyps in young patients because it is polyps which can lead to colorectal cancer.  If polyps are found and removed during a colonoscopy, colon cancer is prevented.  I find polyps in many of my young patients requiring a colonoscopy.  Once removed their risk of cancer is very small and we repeat a colonoscopy in 3 or 5 years depending on the polyp pathology.

For any young patient who is unsure of doing the procedure I tell them, “you can marry the wrong person, buy the wrong house or buy the wrong car.  All of these poor choices will only cost you time and money to fix.  You can look back at these mistakes and say, ‘gee I wish I would have made a better choice’ and there is still no harm.  If you chose not to do a colonoscopy and develop cancer it isn’t just time and money which is wasted.  You can’t look back and say, ‘gee I wish I would have made a better choice’, because with a diagnosis of cancer, there is a lot of harm”.  Don’t ignore your health, it is the most important commodity you own, without it you have nothing!