While colorectal cancer is more prevalent among adults over 45, it can still affect anyone — which is why it’s important to understand the risk factors and be proactive in prevention. Although any type of cancer, including colorectal cancer, cannot be prevented entirely, learning about the risk factors and the lifestyle changes you can make is vital to your health.
What Increases the Chances of Colorectal Cancer?
Several risk factors can increase the chances of an individual in getting colorectal cancer — some are controllable, and some are not.
Controllable Risk Factors
Making changes to the following habits can reduce your risk:
- Poor Diet – Reduce consumption of red meats and add more fruits, vegetables, and grains that are high in fiber to your diet.
- Obesity – Exercising and making healthier food choices can help you achieve a healthy weight.
- Sedentary lifestyle – Lack of activity and exercise increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Find ways to exercise daily — even if it means going for a walk each day.
- Smoking – Quitting can significantly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer as well as many other types of cancers and health problems.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
The following risk factors cannot be changed:
- Age – It’s possible to get colorectal cancer at a younger age, but it’s more common among adults over 45.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – The longer you’ve had it, the higher the chances.
- History of colorectal polyps.
- History of colorectal cancer – If you’ve previously been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, this increases the risk of developing new cancers in other parts of the colon or rectum — even if the cancer was removed.
- Certain inherited gene mutations such as Lynch syndrome and Familial adenomatous polyposis.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
The term “colorectal” defines cancer in the colon and rectal area. Due to their similarities, it is usually referred to as colorectal cancer. Both colon cancer and rectal cancer may share these same symptoms:
- Pain, cramps, or bloating in the abdominal area
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in stools
- Change in stool consistency (loose or watery stool)
- Difficulty in completely emptying the bowels
Early detection can save lives — and one of the best ways to prevent colorectal cancer is to get regular screenings and checkups. At Pleasant Valley Hospital, we aim to keep our community educated and informed about cancer prevention and the treatment options available.