Young Voices United against CRC
Dr Dino Tarabar – Military Medical Academy, Belgrade, Serbia
How big a problem is CRC in young people?
We saw, in the last twenty years, more and more colorectal cancer patients and, even though most of those patients are over 50, unfortunately we are seeing more and more younger patients. So, in my practice I used to see more and more patients who are 20 or 30 years old which is really unexpected. That’s why we have to think about it when we get a patient with the symptoms which could address that in the big round it might be the cancer because in most cases we would say even he has some bowel problems, it’s probably some functional problems, and we maybe won’t send those patients to the colonoscopy, especially if the patient has nobody in the family who had the cancer previously. So that’s the cases where we might make a mistake and treat them as a functional problem instead of sending him for the colonoscopy. So I’m seeing more and more patients at that age so that’s why I’m really thinking about it and sending those patients to the colonoscopy whenever I think that they might have a cancer. Especially if those patients have bloody stools, if they’re anaemic, if they are losing weight, that’s definitely symptoms that I always send them to the colonoscopy.
Are there any biological or other differences in CRC presentation in younger versus older patients?
The symptoms might be completely the same but the nature of the disease is definitely different than in the patients who are older. What I’ve seen in my practice is that most of those patients being younger are having much more severe disease and they are getting metastases much earlier. They do not respond to the therapy that well so the survival is actually shorter. So the point is to find those patients at the earlier stage and that’s the only time that we can really help them. If we miss that period, they will come back again with much more advanced disease and it will be much tougher to treat.
Is this a Europe-wide problem?
What I know definitely is for my country but going to these type of conferences and then following the literature, actually talking with my colleagues, we are seeing in the Western world more and more cases at a younger age.
Can you tell us about the EuropaColon initiative Young Voices United against CRC?
That’s the organisation, actually, which was organised exactly because of those problems, that we recognised more and more patients in the younger age. So it’s definitely needed to get some organisation, that we will stress the problem, that we will send a message to the doctors to pay attention to the younger patient because they won’t get to the age of 50 when they will go through the screening colonoscopy. So that’s why we have to think about it and send a message to the doctors and that’s why we organised all of this organisation for the younger patients, to think about it and to send them to definitely colonoscopy which can save their lives if we find a cancer at an early stage.
What does Young Voices United against CRC involve, is there a website?
Yes, that’s the organisation with the website and we are making films and used to see each other at meetings like this one actually with the aim of spreading the idea to think about younger patients who might have a cancer.
Do you think Young Voices United against CRC will make a difference?
That initiative definitely will help if we think about them and if we think about the cancers at the time and definitely that will save so many younger lives if we actually have so many doctors who think about it, patients who think about it, so that initiative will definitely promote this idea to save those patients earlier, at younger stages and actually that’s the only way that we can help those patients.