- A 42-year-old man with colon cancer that has spread to the liver has urged others with symptoms to get checked out.
- Tom McKenna had diarrhea and noticed blood stained mucus on the toilet paper.
- Rates of people under 50 being diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer have increased since the 1980s.
A man in his 40s who was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer after suffering from diarrhea has urged others to get checked out, amid rising rates of the disease among those under 50.
Tom McKenna, 42, first noticed he was going to the bathroom more often and had diarrhea in the summer of 2020.
“I noticed horrible bloody mucus on my stool and on the toilet paper,” he told Insider in an email.
McKenna, who lives in the UK, also felt sluggish but attributed this to working too hard at her recruiting job and not getting enough sleep.
Generally speaking, he “felt absolutely fine” but went to see a doctor for the diarrhea he was concerned about.
McKenna had colon cancer that had spread to her liver
The doctor arranged a camera-invasive test, called a colonoscopy, and McKenna was diagnosed with colon cancer that day. Further tests revealed it had spread to his liver, meaning he had stage 4 cancer.
The rate of people diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States – and other high-income countries like the United Kingdom – has declined overall since the mid-1980s, in part because people over the age of 45 in the US or over 50 in the UK are screened for cancer before symptoms appear.
However, the rate of people under the age of 50 being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in high-income countries has steadily increased over this period, now accounting for 10% of all new diagnoses.s, According to research. Many factors are thought to contribute to the development of colon cancer, including a diet high in red meat which can cause intestinal inflammation.
Thomas said his case was “bad luck”.
McKenna underwent surgery that removed 60% of her liver
The treatment a person receives usually depends on how far the cancer has spread and may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
McKenna underwent two surgeries which removed 60% of her liver in September 2020 and February 2022, according to a press release from Bowel Cancer UK, and another which removed half of her colon and gallbladder – l organ stores bile which helps digest fat – in May 2021.
McKenna told Insider on Thursday that he’s been feeling pain around the scars from the surgery and avoiding fatty foods and alcohol because they “pass very quickly.” He also increased the amount of fiber in his diet.
As of December 2022, scans had not detected cancer in his body for nearly a year. He will have another scan in May and then every six months for the next five years to check that the cancer has not returned, he said.
Get a check ‘before it’s too late’
The American Cancer Society estimates that 106,970 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2023.
The likelihood that a person will live more than five years after a colon cancer diagnosis compared to someone without cancer generally depends on how far the cancer has spread.
“Colorectal cancer can be very inconspicuous for a long time, so I encourage anyone who has issues or doubts to seek reassurances before it’s too late,” McKenna said.
In addition to McKenna’s symptoms, others include: a feeling that the bowel isn’t completely empty after pooping, weight loss, and stomach pain. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone with these symptoms seek medical attention.