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Who's at Risk for Colon Cancer

Who's at Risk for Colon Cancer

The average person has a 5% chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime. This cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, excluding skin cancers. 

Your colon is part of your digestive tract. You may know it as the large intestine, the organ responsible for removing waste from your body. The cancer begins as polyps — noncancerous clumps of cells. Age is a significant risk factor for the disease. In fact, most people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Someone with an average risk for colon cancer should get a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 45. 

Other factors, including your genetics and race, raise your risk of developing colon cancer. In this blog, the team at Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC, located in Jackson, Mississippi, explains your colon cancer risk and the need for early screenings. 

Personal history

If you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer in the past or a colonoscopy has revealed precancerous polyps, you’re at a greater risk of developing colon cancer in the future. 

Family history

Your genetics or family history of colon cancer also influences your risk of developing the disease. If your parents, siblings, grandparents, or children have had a diagnosis of colon cancer, you’re at an increased risk of developing it, too. People with a family history of colorectal cancer have nearly double the risk of an average person. 

Gender and lifestyle

Men are at a slightly greater risk of developing colon cancer as compared to women. Being overweight also increases your risk. That is especially true if you’re sedentary. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, or a combination of the two also raise your chances of developing the disease. 

Your diet matters, too. Colon cancer is linked to high consumption of red and processed meat

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Patients diagnosed with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — are at a greater risk of developing colon cancer. IBD is a different condition from IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, which is not a factor in colon cancer. 


People who have Type 2 diabetes are also at greater risk. This form of diabetes causes elevated levels of insulin and other hormones, which promotes the growth of colon cancer cells. 


People of African American descent or related to the Ashkenazi Jews, have an increased risk of colon cancer and should start routine colonoscopy screenings before the age of 45. 

What to do if you’re at a higher risk of colon cancer

Certain risk factors cannot be changed, including your age, race, some health conditions, and gender, but other factors — like diet and substance use — can. Minimize consumption of red meat, moderate alcohol consumption, stop smoking, and lose weight if you’re overweight to help keep your colon healthy.

At Lakeland Surgical Clinic, we recommend early and more frequent screenings for colon cancer if you have an increased risk of the disease. Early detection of precancerous polyps or cancer means it’s easier to treat and you’re less likely to experience complications. 

If you’re due for a colonoscopy or would like to have your risk of colon cancer evaluated, contact 

Lakeland Surgical Clinic, PLLC. Call today or use the online tool to set up your consultation.

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