Risk factors for colon cancer
When discussing risk factors, there are two general types of risks: fixed and modifiable. Fixed risks include things that you can’t change about yourself, while modifiable risks often include lifestyle choices. You can modify your diet and drinking habits, but you can’t change your age or race.
Fixed risk factors
Colorectal cancer is not overwhelmingly prevalent in any particular group, but there are a few fixed factors to discuss. These include:
- Age: your risk begins rising after 50, and increases the older you become
- Sex: men are more likely to develop colon cancer than women
- Race: African Americans experience higher rates of colon cancer than other races
- Family history: if you have a family member who was diagnosed with colon cancer, you are also at risk
- Bowel diseases: bowel diseases like IBS or Crohn’s can increase your likelihood of developing colorectal cancer
- Colon polyps: while they’re considered benign, polyps can develop into malignant tumors
Modifiable risk factors
While modifiable risk factors are not always easily altered, you can reduce risk by addressing them in any way possible. These risks include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Heavy drinking
- Type 2 diabetes
You can lower your chances of developing colon cancer by taking daily walks, quitting cigarettes, and limiting alcohol intake. If you have diabetes, you need to manage your condition and keep your blood sugar within reasonable limits.
It’s important to remember that many modifiable risks affect your overall health. Cutting down on processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes does more than lower your risk for colon cancer — it can help you avoid other health complications as well.
The importance of regular screenings
The best thing you can do for your colon is check it regularly. While cancer screenings don’t prevent cancer, they can help doctors diagnose it faster. Early detection is one of the most influential factors when treating cancer; the longer it goes undetected, the more difficult treatment will be.
Most people should begin routine screenings at age 50. However, if you’re at risk for colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend earlier testing.
Concerned about your colon? Dr. Ambe is an expert in colorectal cancer, and he can explain the screening process in detail. You can schedule a consultation by calling 832-280-6782, or requesting an appointment online.