Our Chicago: Colon cancer survivor and researcher talk signs, symptoms and screenings

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Our Chicago Part 1
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Dr. Sonia Kupfer, associate professor and director of GI cancer risk and prevention at University of Chicago Medicine, talks colon cancer screening.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022 more than 106,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer.

Nearly 45,000 others will be told they have rectal cancer.

The number of cases is down for older adults. Dr. Sonia Kupfer, associate professor and director of GI cancer risk and prevention at University of Chicago Medicine says much of that's likely due to screening. But cases are on the rise for people under 50.

"In fact, recently the U.S. Services Task Force reduced the age of screening in the general population to 45 (from 50) in response to that alarming trend," said Kupfer.

She said symptoms of colon cancer include blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. Still, she pointed out that there are other reasons for those symptoms as well. She urged people to get screened saying, "colorectal cancer develops from pre-cancerous polyps and if we can get those polyps out, they have no chance of developing into colorectal cancer." Kupfer pointed out that they are still performing colonoscopies during the pandemic, taking necessary safety precautions.

Candace Henley is a colon cancer survivor and the Chief Surviving Officer for The Blue Hat Foundation which works to raise awareness of colorectal cancer.

Our Chicago Part 2

Candace Henley, a colon cancer survivor and the chief surviving officer for the Blue Hat Foundation, talks screening.

She said the cancer is not talked about it enough. "And the fact that by 2030 colon cancer in the age group of 20 to 49 is expected to be the leading cause of cancer deaths mean that we're not talking about it enough. And I've been advocating about this for 18 years since my own diagnosis." Henley also urged people to have conversations with their family members about diseases that run in the family. She said, "family secrets kill families." Henley said talking about these matters can save lives.

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And Henley is a patient advocate with: