On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss new approaches to treating colon cancer. This issue hits especially close to home for Terry, whose sister-in-law is undergoing treatment for this condition. They note how this population has been hit especially hard during the pandemic, as preventative screenings have plummeted. Due to the importance of preventative care, cancer mortality rates may increase next year for the first time in 25 years. What’s especially alarming is that colon cancer rates have been steadily increasing among younger people.

Terry interviews Cindy Borassi, Interim President of the Colon Cancer Foundation, which emphasizes the importance of early screenings and prevention through events, research, and advocacy. Cindy explains the importance of identifying those most vulnerable to colon cancer and getting them screened at the earliest possible stage. With rising rates of colon cancer among younger adults, the healthcare industry must change its approach to screenings, education, and prevention.

Cindy notes how early detection is the most important factor in survival. The broader public should begin colon cancer screenings at age 45, not the traditional 50. In addition, diet and exercise are vital because more than half of colon cancers are caused by environmental factors.

Yet screenings alone aren’t enough. Following up with those who have positive tests and working with healthcare systems to develop effective treatment plans is also critical. Patient navigation of treatment options, which is especially difficult for underserved populations, is critical.

Cindy explains how colon cancer screenings fell by 90 percent in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to more than 18,000 missed diagnoses, which are projected to result in 4,500 excess colon cancer deaths. Those without access to telemedicine were especially negatively impacted. Colon cancer is already the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide.

Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews Cassie Fraser, Terry’s sister-in-law, who tells her story of being diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at just 47 years old. Cassie explains how the traditional age of 50 to begin colon cancer screenings is outdated. If she had identified her cancer earlier, she might not have had to undergo such intensive treatment. Kate and Cassie discuss how colon cancer doesn’t get the recognition it deserves given the threat it poses. Cassie highlights her motto of “PMA (positive mental attitude) all the way” and her incredible support system that has helped her fight this challenge.

Listen HERE