Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors and Screening Recommendations

Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer-related death. Knowing your risk for colorectal cancer and screening for early detection are the best methods for preventing it.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
  • A Western-style diet
  • A low-fiber diet
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • History of (or existing) inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • Family history of cancer

Colorectal Cancer Screening Recommendations

Most people should start regular colorectal screening at age 50. Newer research suggests African Americans should begin regular screening at age 45. Those with a history of polyps or family history of cancer may need earlier screening.

Screening can be done by a gastroenterologist or a colorectal surgeon. Common colorectal screening methods include:

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Cologuard®, which also detects blood in the stool and looks for DNA cell changes
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

If blood or an abnormality is found as a result of the other methods, a colonoscopy will be required. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons also considers a colonoscopy to be the “gold standard” and says it’s the preferred colorectal screening method unless medical conditions don’t allow for it.

To learn more about colorectal cancer or for help scheduling a screening, visit HealthyDelaware.org or call Bayhealth Lung and Colorectal Nurse Navigator Trina Turner at 302-744-6831.