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Cleveland colorectal cancer survivor celebrates life one year after diagnosis on St. Patrick's Day

Posted at 8:08 AM, Mar 16, 2022

CLEVELAND — March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, approximately 140,000 are diagnosed with the disease annually with about 56,000 deaths each year. However, 60% of those deaths could be prevented if caught early through screening and treatment.

Kevin Guder says a screening is what saved his life.

Exactly one year ago, Guder remembers having severe digestive issues.

“This night I came home and it wasn't normal at all,” he said.

The 55-year-old spent St. Patrick's Day, which is also his birthday, at the hospital undergoing testing and a colonoscopy.

“I had never had a colonoscopy before, I was one of them people that, 'oh, I ain't got nothing.'"

Yet, his doctor did find something.

Guder had colon cancer. He needed to start treatment at the Cleveland Clinic immediately, including radiation and two surgeries.

“Colorectal cancer is very common in the United States and especially in the younger population,” said Dr. Emre Gorgun with the Cleveland Clinic.

Guder is now a survivor.

“I pretty much went back to being completely normal,” he said.

Guder is now using his story to warn others about the importance of early screenings. Doctors recommend screenings at age 45, but it's 10 years younger if there's a family history. We're told delays in diagnosis occur in up to half of young patients due to missed symptoms and misdiagnoses. Right now, the rate of colorectal cancer in people under 50 is increasing.

“Last year, I spent my birthday getting hospital admission stuff done,” Guder said. “I plan on having a sort of a normal St. Patrick's Day birthday.”