Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults with Chris Lieu, MDSep 16, 2020
Chadwick Boseman’s all-too-early death from colorectal cancer has brought awareness to the fact that this cancer type no longer falls in the old-person’s disease bucket. In fact, cases in young adults (under age 50) have trended up each year in Colorado by 2.5% since 2003. It’s still a rare cancer in young adults, but it is concerning that we’re seeing that increasing trend every single year,” says Chris Lieu, MD.
Although Chadwick Boseman's death has shined an “unfortunate light” on the issue, Dr. Lieu hopes it turns up the message that has still fallen on some deaf ears, even among providers. “Every single one of my (young adult) patients has been told they are too young to have colon cancer, we want to make sure that is never said again.”
Dr. Lieu call treatment of his young patients emotionally tough as they are hit with this adversity in the prime of life, often in school or new careers with young families. Seeing their situation prompted Dr. Lieu to help launch the Department of Surgery’s Young Adult Colorectal Cancer Clinic on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in 2015 with Whitney Herter, PA-C, and Jon Vogel, MD.
The take-home message from the death of Chadwick Boseman is that everyone needs to know their family history, pay attention to risk factors, and know the signs and symptoms. “As long as we have it in our minds, we are much less likely to miss it. I tell my patients: You know your body better than anybody else. If you notice any symptoms that are concerning to you, get it checked out. Don’t ignore it. And don’t let your doctors ignore it either.” says Dr. Lieu.