Young People with GI Complaints Should Be Screened for Colon Cancer


John Marshall, MD, explains that health care providers need to retool their thinking when young people present with GI complaints, and be open to the possibility that these could indicate colon cancer.

The standard age recommended for colon cancer screening is 50 years; however, the new emergence of young people with colon cancer makes it important for the medical community to be aware that gastrointestinal (GI) complaints could indicate cancer, and to screen younger people accordingly, says John Marshall, MD.

Marshall, who is chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, professor of medicine and oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, and director of the Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancer, says that "culturally, we have been taught that [GI bleeding or abdominal pain] can't be cancer."

"All of us health care providers need to be aware that bleeding, or abdominal symptoms in young people could be colon cancer," he adds. "Our standard suspicions need to be thrown out, and we need to relearn this: Young people with GI complaints, even the very fit, need to be screened for colon cancer."

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