Inside promising new colon cancer treatments

Dr. Jennifer Ashton reports on a new treatment center in New York City that offers hope for those suffering from colon cancer, a disease currently on the rise in young adults.
4:10 | 03/30/18

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Transcript for Inside promising new colon cancer treatments
Now to that "Gma" health alert about colon cancer. It's the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America and now it's on the rise among young adults. We spoke with one young patient who beat it and the medical team that helped her. It was just about the last news I was expecting to hear. Reporter: At just 24 years old, Dana rye was diagnosed with colon cancer. She's part of an unsettling trend. Young adults developing one of the deadliest forms of cancer. The first time symptoms appeared for me I was 17 years old in high school and experienced a little bit of rectal 3w4r50eding and said this is what webmd told me it could be and the doctor laughed in my face and said there was no possible way at my age it could be colon cancer. Reporter: Experts suggest adults get screened for colon cancer at 50 years old, 45 for African-Americans but according to a study by the American cancer society, colon cancer rates are rising in adults as young as their 20s and 30s with death rates for this group also increasing. And though the overall risks of colorectal cancers at this ages is still low millennials born in 1990 now face double the risk of colon cancer as a person born in 1950 did at the same age. In our patients with young onset colorectal cancer under 50 what we're seeing they don't have a family history or any known genetic predisposition. Reporter: This doctor is behind the first of its kind study at memorial sloan-kettering. If we can identify the patients that are at risk for getting this disease at such a young age we can diagnose them earlier. Their approach, combining research with clinical care to tackle the problem. We hope to provide a broader, more holistic approach of medical care to our patients. Reporter: After six months of grueling treatment, Dana is now 32 years old and eight years cancer-free. If there are changes in your body to know that -- recognize them and make sure to investigate them. Yes, and Jen is nodding along about that knowing your body so what is behind this increase? You know, it's not clear and we don't know. There are some suggestions and a recent study that came out of sloan-kettering suggests a couple of factors. Increase in polyps. There is a definite delay in getting that patient a colonoscopy. Bleeding that then is attributed to hemorrhoids instead of colon cancer, the cost of a colonoscopy, can be difficult for insurance companies to cover it and all contributes to misdiagnosis so we have to be clear. It is still higher risk if you're over the age of 50 but this age group, the rise is concerning. It is very concerning. So what about signs, symptom, prevention? This is where people need to pay attention. Even young people because this can be life saving so signs or symptoms. Number one, any type of I regular bleeding, any change in bowel habits. Weight loss unintentional, persistent cramps, gas or pain. If you notice those be persistent. This applies to the medical profession as well and think of this but you have to talk about prevention because that is really important. So when you talk about colorectal cancer, the things that are associated with lower your risk, diet, very important, not smoking, limiting alcohol and keeping your weight in a healthy range for some people, aspirin has been shown to lower the risk but not recommended for everyone across the board. Something you were adamant about discussing, lynch syndrome. I've never heard of it. You're not along. Even some doctors don't think of lynch syndrome. This is one of the most common heredity trance ss. 1 out of 300 people may be a carrier for this gene. What is. It has an associated increased risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers, endometrial cancer so it's on my radar as a gynecologist but increased risk of stomach cancer, breast cancer sore for those genetic testing is important. Testing, that's how you find it.

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