Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Causes of Colorectal Cancer
While a family history of colon cancer can’t be discounted, lifestyle factors can greatly contribute to the risk factors for this cancer.
Lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of colorectal cancer include:
- Weight. Obesity can increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
- Diet. A diet high in processed meat and low in fiber are factors.
- Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is also an indicator for higher risk for these cancers.
Facts about Colon Cancer by Age Group
- By 2012-2013 nearly 30% of all rectal cancers were diagnosed in people under age 55 compared to 15% in the age group in 1989-90.
- Rectal cancer in adults in their 20s shot up 3.2% a year from 1974-2013 while rates in those over 55 have declined.
- Colon cancer rates in people ages 20-39 since the mid-1990’s have increased in the range of 1-2.4% each year while rates in those over 55 have declined.
The decline in rates of cancer for people over 55 is a good sign. However, it now appears those later-in-life cases occur early due to previously mentioned lifestyle factors.
Tips for Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Since some of the triggers for colon cancer are based on lifestyle, some preventive measures are similarly from lifestyle choices. If you have a family history of these cancers, or have any of the symptoms or other risk factors, talk to your doctor. She may advise you on ways to lower your risk, and help you decide if you need a colonoscopy.
In the meantime, keep your weight within the parameters for good health, eat a diet low in processed food, especially processed meat, exercise often, and increase you intake of dietary fiber, especially through healthful food choices.
Also, have your doctor check your blood levels of Vitamin D. Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood may reduce the risk of colorectal cancers.
When to Get a Colonoscopy
Typically a first colonoscopy takes place when you turn fifty (happy birthday!) However, African-American women should talk to their doctors about a baseline colonoscopy around age 45.
Colonoscopy to screen for for cancer isn’t for everyone. In these cases, ask your doctor about alternative colorectal cancer prevention tests. These are tests like flexible sigmoidoscopy, or a computed tomography colonography. They can also include a cancer detection test like the fecal immunochemical blood test.