GOSHEN, Ind. (WANE) – According to doctors at the Goshen Center for Cancer Care, colorectal cancer patients are getting younger. They’ve started a campaign that helps detect the disease, and it’s free for those that qualify.

Dr. Ashley Hardy at the Goshen Center for Cancer Care says most of her patients are over the age of 50, but a recent study shows colorectal cancer patients are getting younger, and dying at a high rate.

“The underlying reason for this is not entirely known. I think certainly some of the typical risk factors of developing colorectal cancer certainly play a part, specifically with modifiable risk factors,” says Dr. Hardy.

Those include diet, exercise, smoking, and consuming a significant amount of alcohol, but Dr. Hardy says there hasn’t been one specific reason why patients are getting younger.

“What we do know is these cancers tend to be more aggressive, and that they tend to present in later stages. Which influences the fact that the mortality rate tends to be higher in younger patients.”

Dr. Hardy says younger patients mean anyone under the age of 50. She says she’s seen colorectal cancer patients in their 30s, some her colleagues have seen patients in their 20s.

Some of the symptoms to look out for include sudden development of constipation, diarrhea, narrower stool, and bloody stool. Dr. Hardy says early detection is key.

“If you have a cancer that has been allowed to develop for years and year, by the time it’s detected you’re at an increased risk for that cancer having spread to the lymph nodes. Which then puts you at a significantly increased risk that the cancer is able to spread elsewhere, to other organs, or other body sites.”

The Goshen Center for Cancer Care unveiled a campaign to help with detection: Start a movement, share a stool. For those that qualify, you can receive a free in-home screening test, which Dr. Hardy says is less invasive than a colonoscopy.

Dr. Hardy also wants to remind folks the standard for people to undergo their first colonoscopy is 50.

Click here for more information on the campaign.