Who should get screened for colon cancer?

Most people need colon cancer screenings beginning at age 50. However, If anything in the list below is true for you, then you may need earlier testing or more frequent testing for colorectal cancer:

  • Personal history — History of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Polyps can become cancerous and inflammation over a long period of time from IBD can cause the cells lining the colon and rectum to change into cancer.
  • Family history Colorectal cancer survivors are at risk as well as women with a history of cancer. Approximately 20 percent of people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by the disease.
  • Race — African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. American Indians and Alaska Natives are second followed by White, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.
  • Age Colorectal cancer can happen at any age, but most cases are in men and women over age 50.
  • Polyps Polyps become more frequent as we get older, and are usually benign. Regular screenings can ensure that any cancerous or precancerous growths are quickly diagnosed and removed.
  • Nutrition There is evidence that diets high in red and processed meats and low in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may increase your chances of colorectal cancer
  • Exercise According to the National Cancer Institute, regular exercise may help fight against colorectal cancer, and those who are less active may be putting themselves at risk.
  • Smoking Smokers should add this to one of many reasons to quit—long-term cigarette smoking can increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

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