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Late-stage colon cancer diagnoses are up, study finds

Colon Cancer
Posted at 9:25 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 13:17:39-04

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla — Kendrix Jones said he recently got sick, really sick, twice in the last few months.

"My life was normal and then a month ago I came down with what I thought was the flu," he said.

That "flu" landed Kendrix Jones in the hospital days before his youngest son turned one.

"They gave me the CT scan and they found the mass and it was the size of a baseball on my colon," he said.

Colon mass Carolynn Jones.png

The diagnosis? Colon cancer at 40 years old. And two days later on his son, Micha's actual birthday doctors did surgery hoping to remove that mass.

"When I was wheeled back into my room and the surgeon came to check on me. He said, 'We weren't able to remove it.' that was another 'Oh my god' moment where my life stopped again, and I was like 'What do you mean?'" said Kendrix.

It turns out Kendrix's cancer was bigger and had spread further than doctors first thought.

They also found seven liters of toxins and fluids in his body. Kendrix said he was told that he'd likely be dead if he'd waited a week longer to get checked out.

His wife, Carolynn Jones, said he starts chemotherapy in about two weeks.

"What we're optimistic for is and praying for is that it's going to do what it's supposed to do which is shrink it back in, to be able to have the surgery [to remove it]," she said.

Kendrix Jones in the hospital Carolynn Jones.png

In a cruel twist of fate, Kendrix said he asked for a colonoscopy as a part of his annual physical six months ago. But his doctor said he probably didn't need one because of his age.

"He was like they're going to fight you, the insurance company because you don't have any prior history of it. You're too young and I won't worry about it until you're 45 or 50," said Kendrix

But according to a new study, his story is becoming more common.

According to the researchers behind it, they're finding more and more "younger" people with late-stage colon cancers. The sharpest increases were found in folks 20-29, followed by people 30-39.

That said, the reasoning behind this increase is less clear.

ABC Action News spoke to a local internist, Dr. Dora Izaguirre Anariba. She said we could be seeing a spike because more people are rescheduling their annual screenings.

But she adds that it may also be tied to the wider range of tools doctors can now use to catch it.

Stool testing, genetic testing, blood, and CAT scans is another way of testing," she said.

Doctor Anariba also said that most patients don't have any noticeable symptoms until it's too late.

So, she said you should get those screenings, especially if you do notice some specific changes in your body.

"Changes in the bowel habits or weight loss. Or when we pay attention to our stools, do we see that they are dark-colored stools or bloody stools," she said.

It's a message that Kendrix echoes.

"I think if you feel like your body is telling you something, fight for it because you're your biggest advocate," he said.

In the meantime, the Jones family said this cancer diagnosis has had a tremendous impact on their finances because Kendrix can't work.

They've started a GoFundMe to help them cover his medical bills.

Jones family Carolynn Jones.png

The Jones family also runs a nonprofit that focuses on helping kids aged 14-18, "to instill confidence and empower our youth by focusing on academic achievement, financial literacy, health and wellness: both physically and mentally and communication skills."

Learn more about it here.