What is Your Risk Level for Developing Colon Cancer?

Mar 08, 2016

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Since 75% of colon and rectal cancers occur in people with no known family history or increased risk factor, it is safe to say that we are all at significant risk. There are, however, a few 

things that can increase our chances of developing colon or rectal cancer in our lifetime that you should be aware of.

Your Family History

This is true for every cancer, but studies have shown that if you have a parent, sibling or child that has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you are 2-3 times more likely to develop these cancerous cells yourself. That risk grows again if that family member was relatively young when diagnosed. In this case, you are 3-6 times more likely to develop the disease. 20% of all colorectal cancer patients have a family history.

Obesity

There is a higher incidence of colon and rectal cancer in people that are considered obese or overweight. This is just one more reason to keep an eye on your BMI (Body Mass Index) and try to maintain a healthy weight.

Diet

People that have a higher intake of red meat, as well as processed meats, have a higher rate of developing colon and rectal cancers. Those that consume diets higher in fruits and vegetables had lower rates of colorectal cancer.

Smoking

Studies have repeatedly shown that smoking is bad for you in every way possible. Smoking can lead to a higher risk level of developing colorectal cancer in your lifetime. If you need help with a cessation program, your doctor would be more than happy to help you find one that is right for you.  

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking two to three alcoholic beverages a day can increase your incidence of colorectal cancer by 23%. This is why it is recommended to reduce your daily intake of alcoholic beverages to one or less.

Age

90% of all colorectal cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50. 

If you have any of the increased risk factors, it may be necessary for you to be screened more frequently than the typical recommendation of once every 10 years starting at the age of 50. Talk to your doctor to make sure that you are being screened according to their recommendations.

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What can you do to reduce your risk of colon and rectal cancer?

  1. Get screened. It’s important to detect polyps as early as possible and remove them before they are given an opportunity to grow into cancerous cells. This can be done during your regular colonoscopy. Screenings don’t only detect colon cancer, they can actually prevent it. Regular screenings increase your chances of early detection which is also a critical piece to your survival.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Make healthy choices in your diet concentrating on eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting your red meat intake.
  4. Moderate your alcohol intake. Keeping your alcohol consumption to a daily average of one is your best defense.
  5. Don’t smoke. Plain and simple.

 

If you are not considered to be high-risk, you should be getting screened for colon and rectal cancers once every 10 years after the age of 50. These screenings are vital to both the prevention and detection of this disease. Should you be in an increased risk category, please have a discussion with your doctor and they will be able to recommend a schedule for you to follow for your screenings. If you are above the age of 50 and haven’t been screened yet or it has been longer than 10 years since your last screening, please schedule your appointment with us today using our online Patient Portal or by calling us at 252-413-6260.