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Doctors concerned cases of younger cancer patients occurring more frequently

37-year-old North TX man beats colon cancer
37-year-old North TX man beats colon cancer 02:02

FORT WORTH- From the looks of it, 37-year-old Timothy Back is the picture of health.

"I am an avid runner. I do a bunch of 5ks, and I just started doing half marathons," said Back.

So, when last year, at 36, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and his world turned upside down.

"I was just very confused. I try to be so healthy with everything," said Back.

Luckily, his wife Kathy told him that blood in his stool could be a symptom, and they went to have him checked immediately.

If they hadn't, it could have progressed.

"It would have been too late," Back said.

Colon cancer in younger individuals is becoming more common.

Dr. Ravi Pavurala, a Gastroenterologist at Baylor Scott & White in Fort Worth, was the one to diagnose Back.

He said he was surprised by Back's test results.

"It is unusual. He was 36-year-old with no prior health problems," Dr. Pavurala said. "But, we found the cancer early on."

New research released last week by the American Cancer Society shows cancer patients are increasingly shifting from older to middle-aged individuals.

It's a trend Dr. Pavurala says he's seen, too, here in Fort Worth.

In just the last 18 months, he says he's seen dozens of cases, many of which are adults 40-45.

"Some of the factors that can contribute to that are lack of exercise, lack of fiber, increased saturated fat."

When it comes to Back's case, a lot of answers are still unknown, as his case wasn't hereditary.

While the research continues into colon cancer, doctors say the best thing you can do is get checked early.

"I wondered every day why this happened to me, but lesson learned. Get checked by your doctor," Back said. 

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