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Understanding Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Ribbon

Did you know that more than 90 percent of people who get colorectal cancer are over the age of 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)? The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about one in 20, but this varies depending upon individual risk factors.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

There are two risk factors for colorectal cancer that you can't control: aging and having a family history of the disease. Younger adults can develop colorectal cancer, but the chances increase markedly after age 50. As mentioned above, about nine out of ten people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50. When it comes to family history, as many as one in five people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by the disease. Other factors that can increase your risk of colorectal cancer include:

  • Lack of regular physical activity
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • A low fiber and high fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Tobacco use

Who’s at Risk?

According to the CDC, about 68,000 men and 64,000 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010 (the latest figures available). Among races, African-American men and women have the highest risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer, followed by white, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American.

Screening is vital. Early detection of the disease can reduce a person’s risk of death by 90 percent. So, if you are 50 or older, talk with your doctor about getting screened. It may just save your life.

Drexel Gastroenterology

Drexel Gastroenterology expertly treats patients with digestive health disorders. Our regionally and nationally recognized experts work with your primary care physician to ensure the highest standard of care. Our patients have access to Drexel Medicine's Center for Digestive Health, which has been recognized for quality and safety by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and provides outpatient colonoscopies in a comfortable setting.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

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