Colon cancer prevention

Colon cancer risk factors

Somali: Kaansarka mindhicirka iyo malawadka

Spanish: Cáncer colorectal: Factores de riesgo

An understanding of risk factors associated with colorectal cancer can be the first step toward prevention.

Risk factors for colon cancer:

Colorectal cancers occur most often in people who are over the age of 50, and the risk increases as people get older.
Having a first order relative (parent, sister or brother or child) who has had colorectal cancer increases a person's risk of developing this disease. The more family members who have had colon cancer, the higher the risk.
Most colorectal cancers develop in certain types of polyps or tissue growths. Colorectal polyps are noncancerous, but they may become cancerous over time.
The risk of developing colon cancer seems to be higher in people whose diet is high in fat and low in fiber.
Over time, colorectal polyps, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease cause inflammation of the lining of the colon. A history of these diseases greatly increases the risk of colon cancer. Special screening can find early cancer changes.
Using tobacco, being overweight and not getting regular exercise can increase the risk of colon cancer.


The following suggestions can promote colorectal health.

  • Get regular screening tests.
  • Keep a record of cancers or polyps if they occur in your parents or siblings.
  • Eat a diet low in fat and high in fiber. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Colorectal Cancer, can-ah-55156 (1/19); American Cancer Society, All About Colon and Rectum Cancer
First Published: 10/19/2009
Last Reviewed: 07/09/2019

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