Marvin Arrivilliga is on a mission. After being diagnosed with colon cancer at the young age of 36, he wants people to pay attention and get screened before age 50 if necessary.

Marvin is among the growing number of younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer. Usually considered an “above age 50” disease, research is proving that label wrong. Even as diagnoses for those over 50 has been declining, diagnoses for those under age 50 has been climbing 2% per year for 35 years. Researchers from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center predict that by the year 2030, incident rates among people age 20-34 will increase by 90%.

Marvin and his wife want people to know their risk factors and talk their doctor about family history or symptoms. An early screening could save a life. "Get tested. A colonoscopy might be uncomfortable for five minutes but believe me, dealing with cancer for life is a little harder," he said.

According to Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society, there are 3 things young people can do to reduce their risk of colon cancer or to catch it early.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your risk of developing several types of cancers goes down significantly without carrying extra weight and getting daily exercise.
  • Know your family history. Do a little work and find out if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with colon cancer or had polyps removed. The age of their diagnosis is also important.
  • Talk to your doctor about any symptoms such as rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, or changes in bowel movements.

The doctors at Asheville Gastro are here to talk to you about any concerns you may have. Please contact our office for an appointment.