A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop colorectal cancer with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing colorectal cancer. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include the following:
Heredity is perhaps the strongest risk factor for developing colorectal cancer. It is estimated that approximately 20% of all cases of colorectal cancer are hereditary. This risk increases if you have a primary relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child who develops colorectal cancer.
Hereditary colon cancer occurs at a younger age. As a result, anyone with a history of colon cancer in a relative should seek screening early. Guidelines recommend a screening at age 40 or 10 years younger than the earliest age at which a relative developed colon cancer, whichever is younger. Even in the absence of hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), the presence of the disease before age 60 in near relatives increases one’s own risk.
The two most common forms of inherited colon cancer are:
Colorectal cancer most commonly occurs after age 50, though certain forms of this cancer may develop earlier. However, colorectal cancer can occur at any age.
Colorectal cancer has been strongly associated with lifestyle factors. The following factors may increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer:
Although both men and women develop colorectal cancers, men are at a higher risk.
Colorectal cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 3, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Colorectal cancer prevention. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/colorectal/Patient. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Familial adenomatous polyposis. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated June 25, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 1, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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