5 Colon Cancer Signs and Symptoms You Need To Know That Could Save Your Life

Updated: Feb 9

Colon cancer, the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States, is on the rise at alarming rates in younger adults.

The scariest disease of all time is becoming a reality for a growing number of young adults being diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer. Experts warn that young patients ages 20 to 29 have seen the highest spike in rates of diagnosed colon cancer cases.

According to the American Cancer Society, the disease is rising at alarming rates in people ages 18 to 35 and half of all new diagnoses this year will be in young people under the age of 66.

Late-stage colon cancer is on the rise in young adults.

An article from MD Anderson recently reported that if the current trends continue, by 2030 colon cancer cases are projected to increase by 90% in patients under age 35, and rectal cancer cases are expected to increase by 124% in this young patient age range.

I was one of these patients. I was living the average life of a busy, overly-committed mom and wife—managing my kids’ schedules and myriad household duties while struggling to find time for myself. I had shrugged off the warning signs that something was physically “off” until, finally, I could not ignore my health any longer. My world came to a crashing halt when I was delivered a shocking diagnosis at age 37: Stage 3 colon cancer.

Soto with her four children following cancer surgery.
Soto with her four children following cancer surgery.

When people hear my story I am often asked whether I experienced symptoms prior to my diagnosis. The answer to that question is yes; however, symptoms are only one of what I consider a three-point “essential information list” about colon cancer. Knowing all three could help save your life:

  • Colon cancer is on the rise in young adults

  • It’s best to be tested for colon cancer before symptoms are experienced

  • Knowing the symptoms of colon cancer will help you seek treatment

Colorectal cancer does not run in my family and genetic testing would later prove that I had no predisposition for cancer. I'm also an avid runner and was eating what I thought was a healthy diet.

All of my doctors told me that the cause of my cancer was a mystery and nobody could provide me with an explanation other than that mine was a case of extremely bad luck. That response didn't help me to sleep at night. I needed answers. I decided to research everything I could learn about colorectal cancer to try to better understand how and why this could have happened.

What I discovered was that there are far too many stories similar to that of my own. I am just one of many young adults who have become part of the new normal in a dangerous colorectal cancer trend that everyone needs to pay closer attention to. You would be surprised at how many parents with children are members of the colorectal cancer support groups that I joined. The sheer numbers stunned me.

There is no convenient age to receive a cancer diagnosis, but young adults, parents in particular, have to juggle a unique set of circumstances. Dealing with cancer during this phase of life can feel very confronting. Grieving over the life you thought you were supposed to live long before you had your fair share in experiencing it is only part of the equation. Life doesn't stop after your cancer diagnosis. Bills still need to be paid, kids need help with homework, errands need to be run, meals prepared; there are never-ending responsibilities that caring for a family entails.

I recognized there is a critical need to inform, educate and raise awareness around this disease. People are dying because people aren’t talking about the symptoms that we all need to look out for.

People don't understand how critical it is to inquire about screening should they have any symptoms. My goal is to change that and to share what others need to know in order to protect their health.