Colorectal Cancer: What's My Risk?

posted Feb 24, 2011, 6:15 AM by Sara@LS

There are more than 40 different types of cancer. Some are linked to genetics and others to lifestyle factors. But most causes are unknown.


Colorectal cancer is one of the cancers whose cause is unknown. Research has allowed doctors to speculate why someone may develop this type of cancer, but right now, they cannot attribute it to just one factor.


Colon Cancer vs. Rectal Cancer


Colon cancer affects the large intestine (colon), which is the bottom part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer affects the last few inches of the colon. Collectively they are called colorectal cancer.


Signs and Symptoms


Symptoms do not always arise immediately, which is why preventive screenings are the key to catching colorectal cancer early on. Contact your doctor if you notice:

·                     A change in bowel habits,

·                     Blood in your stool,

·                     Narrower stools,

·                     Constant stomach discomfort,

·                     Chronic weakness or fatigue, and

·                     Unexplained weight loss.


Risk factors


People over the age of 50 have the highest risk of developing colorectal cancer. On average, only 10 percent of colorectal cancer cases are in people under the age of 50. Other risk factors include:

·                     Colon or rectum polyps,

·                     Family or personal history of colorectal cancer,

·                     Ulcerative colitis,

·                     Crohn’s disease,

·                     An unhealthy diet, and

·                     Lifestyle habits.




Thanks to improved preventive screenings and treatment, the colorectal cancer death rate has decreased over the last 15 years. Be accountable:

·                     Consult your doctor – Especially if you are concerned about your risk.

·                     Get screened – Talk to your doctor about which screening is right for you.

·                     Get active – Aim for 30 or more minutes of physical activity, most days of the week.

·                     Eat healthy – Include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in meals. Do your best to limit red meat and high-fat or processed foods. Fresher food is better.


Learn more about colorectal cancer at



Source: The American Cancer Society, Medline Plus and the Mayo Clinic

Feb 24, 2011, 6:18 AM