The fun run with a serious message for young people

The Denver Undy RunWalk marks 10 years in 2018 with a special focus on young people at risk from colorectal cancer, the nation’s second biggest cancer killer.

April 17, 2018 (Denver, CO) — The Denver Undy RunWalk has become a popular fundraising fixture in the Colorado running calendar since the first ‘superheroes’ donned capes and oversized underwear – worn outside their pants of course – to break the 5K tape in June 2009.

This year’s event, which will be held in City Park, Denver, on June 23, promises to be a special celebration, not just of 10 years of Undies as they are affectionately known, but of the stunning medical progress being made in the cause which unites all Undy Runners – to defeat colorectal cancer in our lifetime. Just ask the 17,000 colorectal cancer survivors living in Colorado!

Affecting more than 135,000 Americans annually, colorectal cancers (CRCs) are among the most preventable forms of cancer with a 90% survival rate when diagnosed at an early stage. Among Americans 50 and older, CRC cases have dropped by a third, largely due to screening which is triggered automatically at the age of 50 (45 for African Americans) by most insurance providers – earlier if you have a family history – and mortality rates have improved by 17%. But still this largely preventable disease remains the nation’s second largest cancer killer of men and women.

Perhaps the starkest trend to emerge during a decade of Denver Undy RunWalks is the growing risk of young=onset colorectal cancer, which has risen over 20% among under-50s. A report released last year by the American Cancer Society (ACS) found that a typical millennial, born in 1990, is now twice as likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer as someone born in 1950, and four times as likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Additionally, younger patients are far less likely to get a colonoscopy that catches a polyp in time, or before a malignant mass spreads elsewhere. As a result, the ACS study found, their cancers are 58% more likely to be diagnosed late-stage after spreading beyond the colon or rectum compared with patients over 50.

The underlying cause of the rise in CRC diagnoses in under 50s remains unknown, and its discovery is a leading mission of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (the Alliance), the national non-profit behind the Undy RunWalks, which are held in 22 cities across the U.S.

“Cancer doesn’t care how old you are, but we do,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. “The Alliance has committed to investing $3 million for young-onset colorectal cancer research over three years. We are defying and redefining the odds. We are changing the face of this disease.”

Young onset survivor, Stephen Estrada, 31, is testament to the enormous strides being made in colorectal cancer research and treatment, not least here in Denver. Diagnosed with stage IV (metastatic) colorectal cancer at age 28, Estrada was given a year to live until a groundbreaking immunotherapy clinical trial conducted at UC Anshutz quite literally turned his life around. Estrada is now celebrating more than 12 months cancer-free and, as a new senior coordinator for the Alliance, he has become a powerful advocate for the community – the self-styled ‘nation of allies’ – with his ‘I can do more. We can do more’ battle cry.

“Doing more starts locally,” Estrada said. “With our friends, our families and our communities, building awareness of the preventability of CRCs, the need for screening and, where possible, doing our bit to help others. The Denver Undy RunWalk is a fantastic example of the Colorado community coming together over a decade to ‘do more’ and really make a difference to colorectal cancer research.”

Join Estrada and other survivors at the 10th annual Denver Undy RunWalk on June 23. Register at www.undyrunwalk.org.

Onsite registration begins at 7:00 a.m., and the 5K begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information or to register, visit www.undyrunwalk.org, and click on Denver, CO. The 2018 Denver Undy RunWalk is sponsored in part by Taiho Oncology.

Registration fees:

5K Adult (14 and older) – $35 Advance/$40 Race Day
5K Youth (6-13) – $30 Advance/$35 Race Day
1 Mile Fun Run (all ages, Children 5 and younger are free) – $30 Advance/$35 Race Day

2018 Denver Undy RunWalk Location: City Park, Steele Street and 17th Avenue, Denver, CO 80206

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