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Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Edward McCarron Colorectal Colon Cancer

Edward McCarron, MD, Surgical Oncologist, with patient

Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop colon cancer. Knowing your risks will help you and your doctor make the best health choices for you.

Colon cancer risk factors may include:

  • Age—Most colon cancers are found in people over 50. It is recommended at the age of 50 to schedule your first colonoscopy.
  • Race or background—African-American or Jewish with an Eastern European backgrounds are at a higher risk.
  • Medical history—People with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, or previous cancers have higher risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Family medical history—Close family members with colon cancer, as well as some conditions passed down through families, raise the risk.
  • Lifestyle—The links between diet, weight and exercise and colon cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Some evidence suggests that colon cancer may be associated with a diet that is high in fat and calories and low in foods with fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

History Questions:

  1. Do you have a first-degree relative (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) with colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, urinary tract (including bladder, ureter or kidney) gastric, small bowel, biliary, pancreatic, or brain cancer diagnosed before age 50?
  2. Have you had colorectal caner or polyps diagnosed before age 50?
  3. Do you have at least three relatives with colorectal cancer?

If you answered yes to any of this questions or have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce your risk, especially lifestyle factors that you can change.

Learn more about the risk factors and treatments options for colon cancer in the video below.