be_ixf;ym_202404 d_15; ct_50

Colorectal cancer: Know your risk and take action

You are not powerless when it comes to colorectal cancer.

Knowing and addressing the lifestyle traits that raise your chances of getting colorectal cancer may offer you some protection, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

In addition, while you can’t change some colorectal cancer risk factors, it’s still important for you to know about them and to discuss them with your doctor. They may influence when you should start colorectal cancer screening—your very best protection against the disease.

Risk factors you can change
For example, you may be more likely to get colorectal cancer if:

You eat a lot of red or processed meats. Think beef, pork, lamb, liver, hot dogs and sandwich meats.
What to do: Make sure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit or avoid red and processed meats.

You don’t exercise much. Sedentary living has many health consequences—including increased colon cancer risk.
What to do: Stay active. Something as simple as taking regular walks could help.

You’re overweight or obese. This is especially true if you’re a man.
What to do: Ask your doctor what’s a healthy weight for you.

You smoke. Your risk is increased even more if you’ve smoked for a long time.
What to do: If you are ready to quit, ask your doctor about medicines and programs that may help you.

Other key risk factors you can’t change
Certain risk factors for colorectal cancer are beyond your control. But being aware of them can help you understand your risk and take steps to reduce it.

Your age. Most colorectal cancers are diagnosed after age 50.

Your health history. Your colorectal cancer risk is higher if you have had:

  • Polyps (intestinal growths), especially numerous large polyps that show precancerous changes.
  • Previous colorectal cancer.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Your family’s health history. You are at increased risk if you have a first-degree relative who has had colorectal cancer, polyps or an inherited syndrome such as Lynch syndrome.

Get tested on time
Getting screened for colorectal cancer could save your life by finding the disease early or by preventing it before it starts. Several types of colorectal cancer screening tests are available, including stool tests you can take at home.
Your doctor can help you decide when to start screening (at age 45, unless you’re at above-average risk because of your personal or family health history) and which test is best for you.

© Coffey Communications, Inc.

More from GRMC