Risk factors for colorectal cancer

Because early detection of colon cancer and rectal cancer directly impacts outcomes,

it is important to gain an understanding of symptoms, types, stages and risk factors of these diseases.

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Colorectal Cancer

Risk factors may include:

  • Age — Most people who have colorectal cancer are over 50, but it can occur at any age.
  • Race — African Americans have the highest risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Diet — Colorectal cancer is often associated with a diet high in red and processed meats.
  • Polyps — Benign growths on the wall of the colon or rectum—which are common in people over 50—are believed to lead to colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history — A history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps increases risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Family history — People with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease — Inflammation in the lining of the colon common in these two conditions increases risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Inherited syndromes – such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)

Other risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, Type 2 diabetes and smoking.