What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

A risk factor is anything that raises your chances of developing cancer. The following are some of the known risk factors for colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor about your personal risk and how often you should be screened:

Age Colorectal cancer is more common in people over the age of 50.

Personal and Family history. People who have a parent, sibling or child with colorectal cancer are at a higher risk of developing it themselves, especially if the family member was diagnosed before the age of 60. People who have had colorectal cancer are at higher risk of another colorectal cancer.


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Race African-American men and women are at higher risk. The reasons for this are not fully understood.

Ethnicity Jews of eastern European descent. About 6% of American Jews who are of eastern European descent have DNA changes that increase their risk of colorectal cancer.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, puts you at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Lifestyle Being overweight, having an inactive lifestyle, a diet high in red meat and processed meat, smoking, and heavy alcohol use can increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Possible Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Any of the following symptoms should be checked out by your doctor. Although they occur in people who have colorectal cancer, they can also be caused by a number of other treatable conditions.

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts more than a few weeks
  • A feeling of having to have a bowel movement that doesn’t go away even after doing so
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Stomach discomfort, including bloating or steady abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss