A deadly cancer, capable of lurking undetected for years, is increasingly affecting young people at an alarming rate, leaving a trail of devastated families in its wake.
While cancer rates have been steadily declining in recent years, scientists are grappling with a baffling surge in colorectal cancer cases, commonly known as colon cancer, among younger adults traditionally considered low-risk for this disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common among young adults aged 20 to 39. In 2022, 17,930 young adults in the United States were diagnosed with colon cancer.
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the colon and the large intestine. It is most common in adults over 50 but can also occur in young adults. The risk of colon cancer increases with age, but other factors, such as family history, diet, and lifestyle, also influence it.
Story of Daniel Lucas
Daniel Lucas, only 27 then, started noticing blood in his stool in 2017. However, he endured a misdiagnosis for two long years, during which doctors mistakenly attributed his symptoms to colitis, Crohn’s disease, and even appendicitis. Tragically, it wasn’t until the cancer had advanced to stage three, spreading outside the colon, that it was finally identified. Daniel’s battle ended when he passed away at 35 in 2022.
Daniel’s story is sadly not unique, as doctors rarely suspect cancer in people so young, leading to frequent misdiagnoses. Many young individuals, like Daniel, often struggle to get an accurate diagnosis promptly.
In another heart-wrenching story, Jordan Ireland-Knight, hailing from Bethel Park in Pennsylvania, saw his dreams of watching his son grow up shattered when he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the tender age of 29.
A Startling Increase in Young Cases
In the 1990s, only 11 percent of colorectal cancer cases occurred in individuals younger than 55. However, this statistic has more than doubled, with this age group now accounting for a fifth of all new diagnoses in 2021, as per the latest data available.
Experts are grappling with the unprecedented rise in young-onset colorectal cancer. They are exploring various factors, including modern diets, antibiotics, and even fungal infections, as potential contributors to this disturbing trend.
When colon cancer isn’t detected until stage three, the five-year survival rate drops to 71 percent. At stage four, only 14 percent of patients manage to survive for another five years.
A Brave Fight and Unforeseen Setbacks
Daniel began his battle against cancer in Las Vegas, Nevada, undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. While doctors initially believed they had eradicated the cancer, his symptoms returned several months later. He faced the daunting battle again, enduring more chemotherapy and radiation, and was eventually declared cancer-free.
Living Life to the Fullest
According to his aunt, Tami Pangelina, Daniel was determined to savor life. He had high hopes and many things to look forward to. In April 2021, he shared a memorable moment with his best friend, makeup mogul Jeffree Star, on Star’s ranch in Wyoming. The two friends met in the early 2000s in Los Angeles when they were both trying to make ends meet and quickly formed a lasting bond.