Skip to Content

Colon Cancer: What Raises Your Risk

Topic Overview

Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you:

  • Already have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with an adenomatous polyp or colorectal cancer. Some experts say that if you have a first-degree relative who has had colorectal cancer, you should begin screening earlier than age 50. They recommend starting at age 40 or when you are 10 years younger than when your relative was diagnosed with cancer, whichever is younger.1
  • Have had adenomatous polyps removed from your colon. This type of polyp is more likely to turn into cancer, but the risk is still very low.
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
  • Have a rare inherited polyp syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).
  • Have had radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis.

If you have an increased risk for colon polyps, the frequency of your screening depends on your overall health, age, and combination of other risk factors. Talk with your doctor about the types and frequency of tests that will be best for you and your level of risk.

References

Citations

  1. Qaseem A, et al. (2012). Screening for colorectal cancer: A guidance statement from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(5): 378–386.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Last Revised August 20, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Also in this Section