Do you have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer? For most of us, the disease has touched someone close to us or in our lives. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States in both men and women. This year we can expect to see over 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer. Over a lifetime, Americans have about a 5% (1 in 20) risk of colorectal cancer.
That's the bad news, but the good news is much is known about what prevents colon cancer and how you can reduce your risks for being one of those statistics. Factors known to raise the risk of colorectal cancer include a personal history of colorectal polyps, cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, and a family history of colorectal cancer. There is an increased risk for African-Americans compared to other ethnic groups. Advancing age is a risk: over 90 percent of all colorectal cancers occur in people over the age of 50. So whether you have increased risk or are someone with a clear personal and family medical history, we are all at increased risk as we grow older, and can all be interested in the steps necessary to reduce our risk.