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During National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, take time to know the risk factors associated with colon cancer and the best way to effectively treat it.

Some people are at higher risk of developing colon cancer than others. Those with an average risk should talk to their physician about screening tests beginning at age 50. People with above-average risks may want to consider earlier and more frequent screenings.

Determine if your risk is above average by considering the following:

Risks You Can’t Control

  • Age: Over 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are over age 50.
  • Diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disorders: You are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer if you have been diagnosed with conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease.
  • Personal history of polyps or cancer: People with a history of colon polyps, or cancers such as rectal, ovarian, endometrial or breast may be at higher risk.
  • Family history: Having family members with a history of colorectal polyps or colon cancer elevates the risk of developing colon cancer.

Risks You Can Control

  • Smoking: Stop smoking (or don’t start).
  • Lack of physical activity: Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activities each week.
  • Overweight/obesity: Maintain a healthy body weight; avoid overall body fat but especially around the waist.
  • Red meat and processed foods: Reduce the amount of each that you eat, while increasing foods containing fiber.
  • Alcohol consumption: Use alcohol in moderation.

Talk to your physician to determine if your lifestyle and family history puts you at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer. Earlier and more frequent screening may be suggested to help detect it. Screening and early detection is key to successful treatment.

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