LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - New statistics are shining a negative light on Kentucky when it comes to one type of cancer. For 2013, the state ranked number one in the nation for colon cancer incidence.
Kentucky leads the country in smoking and ranks high for diabetes, two major contributors to cancer. When it comes to colon cancer, one local doctor said 40 is the new 50.
In good spirits and next to his 8-year-old son Max, Louisville attorney Dino Camomot showed us pictures in an album called "The Year that Sucked."
Almost two years ago doctors discovered Camomot had colon cancer, stage 4. At just 44 years old the cancer had already spread to his liver.
"I'm surprised that I didn't just curl up in a ball and die," Camomot said.
Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. His mission is to prevent cancer deaths and to get people in their forties, rather than their fifties, to start asking their doctors questions about colon cancer.
"If you are in your 40s and even before, you need to understand that you're not too young to develop colon cancer," Dr. Jones said.
Researchers with the Mayo Clinic found colon cancer is on the top 10 list that affect people between the ages of 20 to 49. He said to pay attention to your body, not your age.
"Don't attribute things such as rectal bleeding, or abdominal pain or weight loss to things like hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome or dietary or digestive issues," Dr. Jones said.
According to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, Kentucky has both the highest rate of new cancers and the highest death rate for all cancers combined in the United States. After two surgeries and a shorter colon, Camomot is cancer free and doesn't dwell.
"You just have to keep going on and doing what you do and live life," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jones is not advocating for earlier screenings than currently recommended, but more so for people to be aware of their family history and symptoms.
Dr. Jones said people don't address possible signs of colon cancer because they are not yet 50. And that he said, can be a fatal mistake.
To learn more about whether you are at risk, symptoms of colon cancer and the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, click here.
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