Are You at Increased Risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal Cancer Risk

Colorectal cancer - cancer of the colon and rectum - is the second leading cancer killer in the United States affecting both men and women.  Your risk increases as you age.  Some people are at even higher risk depending on their personal or family history.  The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable and, if detected early, curable.

Questions About Colorectal Cancer

Answer the following questions to see if you are at risk for developing colorectal cancer.

  1. Are you aged 45 or older?
  2. Do you or a family member have a history of colon polyps?
  3. Do you or a family member have a history of colon cancer?
  4. Do you have a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease?
  5. Do you or a family member have a history of ovarian, endometrial or stomach cancer?
  6. Are you of African American or Hispanic descent?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be at risk of developing this disease.  Talk to your colorectal surgeon or other healthcare provider about getting screened for colorectal cancer (screening means getting tested for a disease even if you don't have symptoms).

Screening can prevent colorectal cancer and healthy lifestyle choices can help. There are some things you can do to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Screening for Colorectal Cancer

  1. Get screened regularly beginning at age 45.*
  2. Exercise and maintain a normal body weight.
  3. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods.
  4. Avoid foods that are high in fat.
  5. Don't smoke, and drink alcohol only in moderation.

To locate a colorectal surgeon in your area, visit the Find a Surgeon search engine.

*In 2018, secondary to new data on the increased risks of colon cancer in those under 50, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery changed recommendations to consider starting screening at age 45.