- Colon cancer is linked to certain lifestyle factors. Being overweight or obese and physically inactive increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Certain kinds of diets, including those high in red meat or processed meat can increase your risk. Smoking and binge drinking also increase your risks of getting colon cancer.
- Your risk of getting colon cancer increases if you have a history of adenomatous polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Your risk is also higher if your parent, sibling or child has a history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps.
- The risk of getting colon cancer grows as you age. Starting at age 50 (or younger if you have a family history of the disease), you should begin getting screened for the disease. African Americans have the highest rate of colon cancer and should begin getting screened at age 45.
- Colon cancer is preventable through screenings. The gold standard for early detection of the polyps that cause colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy – but that is not the only screening. There are other, less invasive tests that can indicate whether or not a colonoscopy is necessary. Colon cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first, which is why the best way to catch the disease at its earliest stages is through screenings. Many polyps can be removed before they develop into cancers.
- Over the past few decades, the death rate from colon cancer has been dropping, which is likely due to increased screening, but the underlying risk for colon cancer is rising due to the increase in obesity rates, physical inactivity and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. Early detection makes it easier to treat the disease. Getting screened for colon cancer can save your life.
Learn more about colon cancer and the different types of screenings at: www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer