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.

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