A man in his 40s is encouraging people to get tested after he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, following frequent visits to the toilet. The cancer had even spread to his liver, for which he had to get 60% of his liver removed surgically.
During the summer of 2020, Tom McKenna, 42, noticed he was going to the bathroom more often and had diarrhea.
“I noticed a horrible bloody mucus on my stools and on the toilet paper,” he told Business Insider.
The U.K. man also felt lethargic, but attributed it to the work in his recruitment job and inadequate sleep.
He said he “felt absolutely fine” overall, but went to see a doctor concerned about diarrhea.
A colonoscopy was performed on McKenna, and he was diagnosed with colon cancer on that day. Cancer had spread to his liver, further tests confirmed. In other words, he had stage 4 cancer.
The rate of a positive diagnosis of colon cancer in the U.S. and the U.K. has decreased since the mid-1980s. This is, in part, because the age threshold to screen people is 45 in the U.S., and 50 in the U.K., as per the outlet.
This is a bit too late if new data is to be believed. The number of people younger than 50 that are getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer in high-income countries has gradually increased, making up to 10% of all new diagnoses, research has found. One of the factors for this increase is said to be a diet high in red meat, which may cause gut inflammation.
For McKenna, it was “bad luck.”
Cancer treatment includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery, depending on the prognosis of the disease.
McKenna underwent two surgeries for the removal of 60% of his liver, in September 2020 and February, a Bowel Cancer UK press release said. He had another one that removed half of his colon and gallbladder in May 2021.
He still has pain around the surgery scars, McKenna told the outlet Thursday. As far as his diet is concerned, he now avoids fatty foods and alcohol because they “pass through very quickly.” Moreover, he has increased fiber intake in his diet.
As of December, McKenna has remained cancer-free for almost a year. His next scan is scheduled in May, after which he will have to get checked every six months for the next five years.
“Colorectal cancer can be very inconspicuous for a long time, so I would encourage anyone who has any issues, or any doubts, to seek assurances before it is too late,” McKenna advised.