Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 49

49

UP &
DOWNSIDE
Colon cancer rates are declining in older
adults but on the rise in those under 50
BY KELLY CASEY

PHOTO BY KAY TAYLOR, UVA HEALTH

L

ori Dunn was only 41
when she learned she had
colorectal cancer. The UVA
Health pharmacist is among
a growing number of young adults
facing this type of cancer. About
10 percent of colorectal cancer cases
are diagnosed in people younger
than 50-the only age group
whose incidence and death rates
are increasing, according to the
Colorectal Cancer Alliance.
Colorectal cancer continues to be
the second-leading cause of cancerrelated deaths, largely because it
normally doesn't show symptoms
until later stages. Dunn is one of the
lucky ones. Her cancer was found at
the earliest stage. She is cancer-free
after having surgery at UVA Cancer
Center. Her cancer could come back,
so she plans to continue having
annual colonoscopy screenings. Her
daughters will have a first colonoscopy at age 31-10 years earlier than
their mother's diagnosis, as experts

recommend for anyone with a parent
who has colorectal cancer.
A fortunate series of events led
to Dunn's early stage diagnosis. In
fall 2017, during an annual checkup
with her primary care physician,
Dunn happened to mention her
older sister's recent colonoscopy
results: an abnormal number of
polyps, although none was found to
be cancerous. Dunn also mentioned
that her mother had ovarian cancer
and her grandfather died from colon
cancer. With the additional concern
that colon cancer in young adults
is increasing, her doctor, Kimberly
Dowdell, MD, consulted with UVA
gastrointestinal specialist Rachel
Ann Hays, MD, who recommended

10%
of colorectal
cancer cases
are diagnosed
in people
under 50-
the only age
group whose
incidence and
death rates
are increasing,
according to
the Colorectal
Cancer Alliance

that Dunn get a colonoscopy because
of family risk factors.
During Dunn's colonoscopy, Amy
Doran, MD, removed a few polyps,
and a week later, lab results showed
it was colon cancer. "I wasn't entirely
surprised, but I was a little shocked,"
Dunn says. Four weeks later, UVA
colorectal surgeon Charles Friel, MD,
performed laparoscopic surgery to
remove 1 foot of Dunn's colon.
Surgery was the last step in a
process that involved a number
of doctors coming together to
ensure Dunn had the best outcome.
"Early screening and detection
saved my life," Dunn says. "I was
symptom-free when diagnosed, so
it really was a series of thoughtful
physicians that led to my positive
outcome. I feel thankful every single
day for my early diagnosis. This
could have, should have turned out
very differently." *

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives
Lori Dunn is among only 39 percent of people who are diagnosed at an early stage
because many people are not screened for colorectal cancer. Talk to your provider about
the screening that is best for you. Learn more at uvahealth.com/colonscreening.

VIM & VIGOR SPRING 2020


http://www.uvahealth.com/colonscreening

Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA

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Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 2
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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover3
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