AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Karissa Rund was just 31 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer.

“I was really young, which is part of this increasing trend, unfortunately,” Rund said.

The Littleton resident sought help when she had horrible stomach pain.

“It felt like someone was trying to stab me in half,” she said.

 Scans revealed a tumor blocking her colon. 

Now seven years later, she’s had nine surgeries and years of chemotherapy. She is stable and is starting a clinical trial at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

“For the last seven and a half years we’ve been trying to keep me alive,” she said.

While the majority of colorectal cancer cases are still in people over the age of 65, experts said more and more young people are now being diagnosed.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. It’s highly preventable,” said Andrew Dwyer, the Colorado Colorectal Screening Program co-director at the CU Cancer Center.

She said people with average risk should start screening at age 45, but if a person has increased risk or symptoms they should start sooner.

Symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, a change in bowels or blood in the stool.

Colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening, but experts said there are several other stool-based tests available that are less invasive.

Dwyer is not sure why there is an increase in the number of cases in younger people, but she recently went to Washington D.C. to ask the administration for funding for research, specifically on why this trend is happening.