All adults and,very rarely, some children and teens, are at risk for colon and rectal cancer. How serious that risk is depends on several factors:
- Family history
- Personal medical history
- Lifestyle choices
- Ethnic background
Consider Your Risk
- Ask yourself some important questions.
- Decide on your level of risk.
- With your doctor, develop a personal strategy to manage your risk.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Am I 50 years old with no other family or personal history that would increase my risk?
- Was my mother or father, sister or brother, or one of my children diagnosed with colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps?
- How many family members?
- At what age were they diagnosed?
- Do I have inflammatory bowel disease?
- ulcerative colitis?
- Crohn’s disease?
- Have I had adenomas (polyps) removed?
- Have I had colon or rectal cancer?
- Have I had endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining)?
- Do I have diabetes?
- Am I overweight or a smoker?
- Do I drink heavily?
- Do I get regular exercise?
- What’s my diet like?
- Do I eat large amounts of red or processed meats?
- Do I get several servings of fruit and vegetables every day?
- Do I get adequate calcium and vitamin D?
- Do I belong to a high-risk ethnic group?
- Am I an African-American?
- Is my family descended from Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe?
Levels of Risk
- Average Risk
- Age 50 or over with no other personal or family risk factors
- Increased risk
- Previous colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- High risk
- Inherited Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
- Inherited familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis (AFAP)
- Lifestyle risks
- Heavy alcohol use
- Lack of exercise
- Diets high in fat and red or processed meat
- Few fruits and vegetables
- Low levels of vitamin from sunshine
Where Can You Go For More Information?
To learn more about Family History, you can visit: www.FamilyPLZ.org
The US Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait can help you review your family history and risk for colorectal cancer and other diseases.
Colorectal Screening and Surveillance Guidelines were revised in 2008 by the by a collaborative effort of the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Multisociety Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology and provide a consensus on effective colorectal cancer screening.
American Cancer Society What are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer? is a clear, consumer-friendly overview of colorectal cancer risk.