MEDINA, Ohio (WJW) – Life was picture perfect for Daniel Gut, a healthy Medina father of five when suddenly he said things took a turn with is health that he initially tried to ignore.
“Being busy, probably just being a typical stupid guy too, I’m like, ‘I’ll be fine. It will go away,'” said Gut.
The 39-year-old said for about a year he was having digestive issues, but he pushed aside worrying symptoms and pressed on until it became unmanageable.
“It wasn’t painful, but it was just uncomfortable and it’s usually not stuff you want to share with your spouse or talk about so I figured I’ll deal with it and it will get better,” said Gut.
With the encouragement of his doctor, who he admittedly went years without seeing, Gut was shocked to realize just how troubling his diagnosis could have become.
“They found over 100 polyps in my large intestine… All those polyps were progressing towards cancer,” he said.
Gut was diagnosed with polyposis, a rare but often inherited condition that causes polyps in the colon. It was a stunning discovery considering the lack of family history of colorectal cancer.
Gut said he did not realize warning signs would be evident at his younger age. It’s a common misconception, according to Dr. David Liska, a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who helped treat Gut.
“We find young people with colorectal cancer who have a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer, very often they will have had symptoms for a long time on average six months before going to their doctor and telling their doctor,” said Dr. Liska. “Even physicians don’t commonly think of colorectal cancer in young people. We are still thinking colorectal cancer is a disease that happens in people older than 50.”
He said symptoms like blood in stool are often mistaken as the result of a hemorrhoid instead of a warning sign that should prompt urgent attention
The American Cancer Society recently changed its guidelines for colorectal screenings, including colonoscopies to start at 45 years old instead of 50.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, colorectal cancer cases in patients under 50 years old grew by more than 50% since the 1990s.
Earlier this month, the hospital announced the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer, which will focus on the diagnosis, care and research of younger patients.
Dr. Liska is the director of the center and said the earlier you can catch colon cancer, it increases positive outcomes for the patient.
“Thankfully for Daniel, we were able to catch his condition before his polyps turned into an aggressive cancer… Even though he waited, he was lucky that his symptoms happened when the polyp wasn’t a cancer that invaded through the wall of the colon able to go to other organs,” said Dr. Liska.
Gut had surgery in July at the Cleveland Clinic and he’s received positive news from his doctor since then.
“The more I thought about it and the more my wife was asking me questions, like are we going to be okay if something happens to me or like the kids seeing their concern, then it started to feel real,” said Gut about those early days of his diagnosis. “Thankfully with trust and faith in God and the awesome team that the clinic had, I just sort of did what they told me to do.”
His message to other younger and generally healthy people is to pay attention to their health and understand there’s no shame is seeking care.