An Australian mom was only 32 years old and expecting her third child when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer that had already spread to her liver.
Nicole Yarran from Perth, Western Australia, was showing early signs of the diseases before the diagnosis—she was losing weight, feeling bloated, constipated, and had discovered blood in her stool, reported the Australian ABC.
“Early in 2015, that’s when I started realizing that she was losing a lot of weight,” Nicole’s mother, Kathy Narrier, told ABC 7.30.
“She had no energy. If you knew Nicole you knew there was something wrong.”
Nicole raised her concerns with a doctor but was told she was “too young” to have bowel cancer, reported the news station.
“She told him the symptoms, that she had bleeding from the bowel,” Kathy said.
“He boiled it down to irritable bowel syndrome and kept giving her medication for that. They wouldn’t do the stool test, no colonoscopy or nothing. They just said that she was too young,” she added.
Nicole was diagnosed on Christmas Eve 2015 with metastatic colorectal cancer after doctors found “eight golf ball-sized tumors” on her liver after a routine ultrasound for her pregnancy, reported Unilad.
“If the doctor had only listened to her symptoms and requested a stool sample or full blood count, at least they would have found it in 2014 because it was the pregnancy that aspirated the cancer, it literally fed the tumors,” Kathy told digital media website.
“Nicole was a warrior during her ordeal, she got angry at the sight of tears, and yes she hid the majority of her prognosis, it was not until she developed fluid that it became apparent that we were on borrowed time,” she added.
The mother of three died from the disease in September this year.
Kathy said her daughter’s last request was to help young people better understand the risk of bowel cancer.
“If you know your body and you know something’s wrong, don’t take their word. Continually ask them to do something about it,” Kathy told ABC 7.30.
Increased Rates of Bowel Cancer in Young People
According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), more and more young and middle-aged adults in the United States are being diagnosed with bowel cancer, also known as colon and rectal cancer, depending on where it starts.
Strategic Director of Surveillance Information Services at the American Cancer Society, Rebecca Siegel, said the increase in colon and rectal cancer among young age groups is concerning because it affects people during their most productive years.
“Trends in young people are a bellwether for the future disease burden,” Siegel said.
“Our finding that colorectal cancer risk for millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering. Educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis, which are so prevalent in young people, but also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend,” she added.
Siegel said it was important for young people to pay attention to the signs and symptoms. People younger than 55 are 58% more likely to be diagnosed with the late-stage disease than older people due to delays in following up on symptoms.
According to the ACS, the most common types of signs and symptoms include the following:
– A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
– A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
– Rectal bleeding
– Dark stools, or blood in the stool
– Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
– Weakness and fatigue
– Unintended weight loss
The American Cancer Society currently recommends screening for bowel cancer starting at age 50 for most people, with screening starting at a younger age for those with a family history of colon or rectal cancer.
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