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Colon Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of colon cancer are unknown. Some risk factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, can influence someone’s odds of being affected by colon cancer.

Risk Factors You Can’t Control

The following unpreventable risk factors may be related to the development of color cancer:

  • Age, because the risk of developing any cancer increases as age does
  • Race and ethnic background, because African Americans and people of Ashkenazi descent have a higher risk
  • A history of intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • A family history of colorectal cancers
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Some genetically inherited conditions like Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Having previous cancerous growths of the colon or precancerous polyps

Risk Factors You Can Control

Other risk factors for colon cancer are more controllable. If you’re concerned about developing colon cancer, you can address the following lifestyle-related issues:

  • Living a sedentary lifestyle without regular exercise
  • Being very overweight
  • Eating a high-fat diet or a diet with lots of processed and red meats
  • Drinking alcohol in excessive
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products

It’s worth pointing out that even if you or a loved one have one or more of these potential risk factors, it doesn’t mean that cancer will develop. But it’s important to try and limit the potential for developing colon cancer as best you can.

What Else Can You Do? Get Screened!

Colon cancer is thought of as being a disease that affects people over the age of 50. And while the majority of cases are indeed in that age group, there is a concerning trend in younger adults being diagnosed with colon cancer.

For this reason, Tampa General Hospital colorectal experts recommend regular colorectal cancer screenings for anyone over the age of 25 or 30, especially if they are experiencing symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, abdominal cramps and others.

During screenings, medical professionals run a number of diagnostic tests and check for precancerous polyps that might eventually become cancer, as well as existing malignant tumors. Early detection is key to helping prevent the spread of colon cancer with targeted treatments, and the colorectal cancer team at TGH is standing by to help create a plan that suits your unique needs.

If you have a diagnosis of colorectal cancer and would like a physician referral, please use our Physician Finder tool or call (813) 844-2200 for more information.