Ninteen year old girl battles colon cancer, doctors are shocked by her age

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POSTED: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 3:26pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 7:00am

March is colon cancer awareness month. It surprises some to know, colon cancer it's the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

It normally is discovered after the age of 50, but as one Valley girl found out, normally is not absolute.

At 19 years old Jessica Azua looks like a normal teen, sporting highlighter pink flip flops and a cute curly hairdo. But last October, a trip to the doctor showed otherwise.

"She was admitted to the hospital with what looked like a pelvic mass. And when further assessing, they could see she had two large ovarian masses," said Dr. Carlos Herrera, Gynecologic Oncology doctor at DHR.

So Azua was rushed into surgery, and doctors removed both of her ovaries, her uterus, and a small section of her colon. That's when doctor's started to see where the cancer began.

"The pathology revealed that is was really, the tumors were coming really, from the colon," said Dr. Herrera.

Azua is still trying to wrap her head around her colon cancer diagnosis.

"It didn't hit me until, even when I had the surgery, I don't know it hasn't hit me until now," said Azua.

But the biggest surprise, especially for doctors, was her age.

"Jessica is 19 years of age. That is extremely unusual, to be honest, for any kind of cancer that you would think," said Dr. Herrera.

But the surprises continue. During the interview, Azua was asked about her reaction to seeing her surgery photos.

She quickly replied, "I haven't see the pictures till this day!"

With the doctor standing near, we asked if she finally wanted to look at them and she agreed.

Her reaction was just silence; shocked at seeing the tumors sheer size. But the saddest part isn't the cancer at all.

"Well being a woman you want to have babies, and that really hurt me," said Azua softly. "Knowing that I can't have kids or whatever, so I just feel really sad."

But even with this sadness, she still manages to share some advice.

"Just don't think it can't happen to you because it can."

She urges everyone to have a doctor check out their symptoms and to get a colonoscopy at the age of 50.

To learn more about colon cancer and how to prevent it, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/

Azua's cancer is very unusual, especially because Azua does not have any family history with colon cancer. Doctors believe her cancer is a sporadic mutation.

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