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Who is at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 147,950 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 53,200 could die from this disease in 2020.

Colon cancer doesn’t care about gender which is why both men and women are equally at risk. Recent data has shown an increasing of new colorectal cancer cases in the younger population which has changed the recommendation for regular colorectal cancer screening. The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk starting at age 45. People with a family history of the disease or who have certain other risk factors should talk with their doctor about beginning screening at a younger age.

Over 75 percent of colon and rectal cancers happen to people with no known risk factors, which is why regular screening is so important. A personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps can increase the risk of developing colon cancer.

Genetics/ Family History

Knowing your genetic background is very important when it comes to knowing your risk of colon cancer. If you have first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with colon cancer, especially if the cancer was diagnosed before the age of 55 years, your risks of developing the condition are roughly doubled compared to those with no family history. Even though family history is important about 80% of colon cancers occur sporadically in patients with no family history of colon cancer. Which means about 20% of all colorectal cancer patients have a close relative who was diagnosed with the disease.

Personal Medical History

Having a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease(IBD), including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, may increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer. Your risk may be higher the longer you have experienced IBD and depending on how much of your colon is affected.

Racial and Ethnic Background

African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. The reasons for this are not fully understood.

Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.

Other Risk Factors

  • Lack of regular physical activity.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
  • A low-fiber and high-fat diet,or a diet high in processed meats.
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco use.

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

Get Screened!  This is the very best way to help prevent colorectal cancer. Starting at age 45, everyone needs to get screened for colorectal cancer, regardless of symptoms.

The American Cancer Society, in its Current Recommendations for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer, recommends taking the following actions to prevent colon cancer:

  1. Get screened regularly.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
  4. Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources; specifically:
  • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.
  • Limit your consumption of processed and red meats.
  1. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.

Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio (GCSA) accepts most insurances, including HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medicaid plans.

Colonoscopies typically receive excellent insurance coverage, and we accept a wide variety of plans to make screening for colorectal cancer affordable for as many people as possible. However, your plan may still require some out-of-pocket contribution. We offer CareCredit® and in-house financing to make sure you can access this important procedure. To learn more about insurance and financial policies, visit our FAQ.

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