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    Alfred Adler, posted by David Baxter

David Baxter

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B.C. actor developed colon cancer at 30, says doctors ignored her symptoms
By Meghan Collie, Global News
October 24, 2019

Vancouver actor Annette Reilly — who plays Diana Spellman, the mortal mother of teenage witch Sabrina Spellman in Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina — spent much of 2011 at doctors’ offices and hospitals with intestinal issues.

At the time, Reilly was 30 years old and presented with symptoms of severe cramps, a blockage, bloody stool, anemia and low hemoglobin. Eventually, she had a near-daily low-grade fever.

These are all classic symptoms of colon cancer, but doctors didn’t consider that someone her age could have the disease because it’s normally associated with older men.

After 10 months of wondering what was going on, Reilly was given a colonoscopy. It revealed she had Stage 3B colon cancer — and it had spread to her lymph nodes.

“I think if I had been a male over the age of 50, I would have been given a colonoscopy first thing, right out of the gate, and they would have found this giant tumour,” Reilly told the Canadian Press.

“I found that I wasn’t being taken seriously by the medical system, which I found to be consistent with my other cancer-surviving peers. Because of our age and sometimes our gender, there’s a bit of discrimination that happens there. It’s a bias, I think, that’s taught to doctors.”

Reilly isn’t alone in feeling this way. A new report from Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) looked into the issues faced by young adult cancer patients in Canada.

Researchers surveyed 622 people between the ages of 15 to 39 and found that stigma was an issue for the community.

“Many people see this age group as ‘too young to have cancer,’ resulting in a massive lack of resources, from support to research,” Geoff Eaton, founder of YACC and a young adult cancer survivor himself, says in a news release.

According to the Canadian Press, Reilly struggled to find information about her cancer and treatment because so few young women receive the same diagnosis.

“I just hope that those in the medical community will look at the individual cases without the bias, just for what they are, and realize that there are exceptions to the rules,” Reilly says. “I hope there can be a bit of compassion there, too.”

Detection is a problem
According to a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society, nearly half of colorectal cancer cases aren’t detected until they have spread to other organs.

“The reason this is important is the stage at which cancer is diagnosed has a big impact on the outcomes of the disease,” Dr. Leah Smith, senior manager of surveillance at the Canadian Cancer Society, previously told Global News.

Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the bowel and colon, is the second most diagnosed cancer in Canada and the second leading cause of cancer death, accounting for an estimated 9,400 deaths in 2017. If it’s caught at Stage 1, it has a 90 per cent survival rate. If it’s caught at Stage 4, the survival rate is less than 15 per cent.

There’s also an easy test for colorectal cancer: a stool test, which can be done at home, is the first step.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that all adults between the ages of 50 and 74 take this test every two years, more often if they have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors.
Screening programs exist in every province except Quebec, where one is being developed.

How can Canadians help protect themselves?
Someone’s risk of developing colorectal cancer can be reduced by healthy lifestyle habits. These include being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting red and processed meat consumption and avoiding large amounts of alcohol.

Smoking also increases your risk of colorectal cancer so avoiding tobacco is best, said Smith.

Screening for colon and rectal cancers is also important. Smith says there are screening programs in place for adults over 50 but adds that anybody who is experiencing symptoms that indicate colorectal cancer should be checked for it.

“Some of the signs of colorectal cancer are things like changes in bowel moments, blood in the stool, stomach cramping and weight loss,” Smith said.

She adds that speaking to your doctor about any such symptoms is crucial to early detection.

“It’s always important we are aware of our body and are communicating openly and honestly with our health-care providers about what’s going on.”

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Daniel

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US task force proposes starting colorectal cancer screening at age 45 - CNN

...This isn't the first time that screening for colon and rectal cancer at age 45 has been considered. The American Cancer Society already has updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening to start at age 45 instead of 50, as previously advised. That update was made in 2018...

In general, "we definitely have seen an uptick in young people coming in with diagnoses of colorectal cancer often at very advanced stages of the disease and who have no obvious risk factors for the disease," Ng said. "The fact that we do see so many young people diagnosed under the age of 45 really points to the continued need for research about what the underlying causes are."
 

David Baxter

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Absolutely! Thanks for the reminder.

I've had colon cancer and a younger brother dies from it a few years back. My doctors have advised me that my adult children should definitely start colonoscopy testing in their early to mid 40s. Sadly, at least one of them had a doctor tell him that wasn't necessary and he should wait until 40. Pretty ignorant since he had little or no information about me and my brother other than we both had colon cancer. :mad:

If you start developing polyps or actual tumors, the earlier you catch it and start treatment the more likely you are to have a positive outcome.

Having a colonoscopy is not pleasant primarily due to the preparation (diarrhetics to empty the digestive tracts combined with fasting - try to get a morning appointment if you can and rewart yourself with coffee and Timbits or Milo and Vegemite as the case may be on the way home). But the procedure itself is done under sedation and is painless. I usually fall asleep pretty quickly.

And I can tell you from experience that if you do have colon cancer, the treatments they have today are very effective and improving all the time but they still have a list of side effects that are far more unpleasant than a colonoscopy. I get them once or twice a year due to my history and they recently caught a return of some small tumors so I'm back on chemo again. And my recent CT scan shows that it's working well. After only a month back on chemo, the tumors, small to begin with, had already shrunk to half or one third their original size. :)
 

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Are the side effects from the chemo, like fatigue, just as annoying this time? Or are they using a smaller dose?
 

David Baxter

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Are the side effects from the chemo, like fatigue, just as annoying this time? Or are they using a smaller dose?

Not a smaller dose. It was worse the first time because I also had h.pylori plus I got c.diff. in the hospital plus I was anemic and I was still recovering from the surgery. Then I was treated for persistent anemia for a full two years including IV iron and blood transfusions every 3 weeks.

I started off in better health this time. The worst side-effects this time are GI issuesand low energy but in general I'm tolerating it better currently.
 

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