Colon cancer affects people of all color, sex and ethnic background. Some people with no known risk factors develop colon cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop colon cancer. But, research has shown that there are certain identifiable risk factors that, if present, make it more important that you get colorectal cancer screening in San Antonio TX.
- Age. Although young people can develop colon cancer 9 out of 10 people that do develop colon cancer are over the age of 50. This is why it is recommended that everyone over age 50 have a colonoscopy.
- Family History. If you have a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with colon cancer your risk for colon cancer is higher as well. Having family members with precancerous (adenoma) polyps may increase your risk as well. If colorectal cancer or adenoma polyps are in your family talk to your doctor or contact me, you may need a colonoscopy sooner than age 50.
- Personal History of Polyps or Cancer. If you have had colon polyps on previous colonoscopy or if you have a prior history of a cancer of any type, you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer. The number and type of previous polyps, or type of cancer and age at which it developed, helps us determine your risk and when you should be evaluated.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease. If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis you are at increased risk for colon cancer. Both of these conditions cause chronic inflammation of your colon that can lead to growth of abnormal cells (dysplastic cells) that are at high risk of progressing to cancer. This is a different growth process than a “typical” colon polyp and has different risks for cancer. Evidence shows that it you have had inflammatory bowel disease for longer than 7 years your risk for colon cancer starts to go up. More diligent screening at that point is the right thing to do because, just like with colon polyps, if dysplasia is found in time it can be removed along with the risk of it becoming cancer.
- Inherited Syndromes. There are certain genetic inherited syndromes that we know increase your risk for colon cancer. Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and Hereditary Non-polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC) are two examples of this. If you have any genetic syndromes that run in your family speak with your doctor about the risks you have of developing different conditions, like colon cancer, and develop a plan for your screening.
- Racial and Ethnic Background. African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer. The reasons for this are not completely understood.
- Lifestyle Related Factors. We also know that poor diet and lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Having a diet high in fat, red meat and processed meat, being over weight and not doing much physical activity, smoking and excessive alcohol use all increase your risk of developing colon cancer.