Shawnee man who has battled colon cancer says no one should fear the screenings

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States.  It`s no longer a disease that only older Americans need to be worried about.  New studies show people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed much more frequently.

In late 2013, Kurt Barbour was living his dream.  He was married to his high school sweetheart and healthy, minus a nagging feeling in his stomach.

“I had a burning sensation in my stomach, lower part of my abdomen, and it just continued to burn,” Barbour said.

The Shawnee man thought it was an ulcer, and for months, he treated it like an ulcer.

Then Barbour finally decided it was time to see a doctor, and the doctor recommended a colonoscopy.

“During the colonoscopy, the physician doing that couldn`t even pass the scope the tumor was so big,” Barbour explained.

It was stage four.  The cancer had spread to Kurt`s lymph nodes and lungs.

Kurt was only 47 years old, and according to medical standards, he was too young to worry about getting regular colonoscopies.

“Fifty is when you`re technically supposed to get a colonoscopy,” he said.

A new study shows Americans under the age of 55 are experiencing much higher rates of colorectal cancer than ever before- and because younger people aren`t usually recommended a colonoscopy- the cancer is found in more advanced stages- like Kurt`s.

“Unfortunately, I was told during my diagnosis, and this was a real shocker, that there is no cure for my kind of cancer,” he said.

Kurt is now 50 years old, he`s outlived his prognosis.  He wants others to know- no matter how old- don`t fear a colonoscopy.

“After experiencing what I`ve experienced, a colonoscopy is nothing, it`s easier than going to the dentist,” Barbour said.

People are scared to get a colonoscopy, and it`s not that scary,” said Christy Dore from the American Cancer Society.

She says know the risk factors, and if you have them, it might be time to ask your doctor when you should start getting an exam regularly.

“Family history is a big factor in determining when to start colonoscopies,” Dore said.

Other big factors include obesity and lack of physical activity.

Kurt`s only warning came when it was almost too late.  He didn`t know an upset stomach was a sign of danger and a sign of a life-changing disease.

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