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Learning about colon cancer: My House

What are the risk factors for colon cancer?

Cancer risk factors are things that put you at higher risk for having cancer. Colon cancer risk factors may include:

  • Age: people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk than are those under the age of 50
  • Health history: having had growths called polyps in the past, having had colon cancer, or having a bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease increases the chance that you will have colon cancer in the future
  • Family health history: having a parent, brother, sister, or child with colon cancer increases your own risk. So does having certain syndromes that are linked to colon cancer that you inherited from your mother or father
  • Race or ethnic background: African Americans and Jewish people from eastern Europe are at higher risk for colon cancer than people who are not
  • Lifestyle habits: eating a large amount of red or processed meats, such as beef and hot dogs, being physically inactive, being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol all increase your risk for having colon cancer
  • Having type 2 diabetes: people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for having colon cancer

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for colon cancer.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.


Can I be screened for colon cancer?

Screening can help your healthcare team find polyps or cancer before you have any symptoms. If polyps are found, they may be able to be removed, often before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also help find cancer early, when it is small and more likely to be cured.

Many tests are used to screen for colon cancer. A common one you may have heard of is a colonoscopy. Ask your healthcare team if and when you should be screened for colon cancer.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.


What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test used to screen for colon cancer. The doctor will use a long tube with a light and camera attached to look inside the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they can often be removed right away. If abnormal tissue is found, your doctor can take a sample of it to test it for cancer. This is called a biopsy.

Talk with your healthcare provider about when you should have a colonoscopy.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.


How can I lower my risk for or prevent colon cancer?

Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and less of foods high in fat can help prevent colon cancer. So can being active, avoiding alcohol, and staying at a healthy weight. Talk with your healthcare provider about lowering your risk for colon cancer.

To the right are examples of organizations and resources you may find helpful. Click on the links to visit those websites and learn more.

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