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What Factors Increase Colorectal Cancer Risk?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier

Most cases of colocrectal cancer involve the large intestine, although the rectum and appendix may be impacted as well. Several factors enhance colorectal cancer risk. For example, traditional cancer elevation indicators like age and heredity influence incidences. Many individuals, however, may not be aware of the suspected roles poor diet and diminished physical conditioning play in this type of cancer. In addition, individuals who are susceptible to benign growths in the large intestine called polyps also maintain a vulnerability for cancerous growths.

Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, impacts the lower digestive system and the excretory system. As such, the rectum, appendix, and large intestine — or colon — are involved. Some cases may be largely without symptoms, but common emergent indicators can include abdominal pain and bloating, fatigue, and changes in bowel habits or stool appearance.

Polyps in the colon can be a precursor to colorectal cancer.
Polyps in the colon can be a precursor to colorectal cancer.

Recurrence of growths known as polyps may signal an increased colorectal cancer risk. These fleshy masses are slow-growing and can be found along the inner lining of the colon. Although they are typically non-cancerous, they may develop into a malignancy if left untreated. One particular type called an adenomatous polyp is especially viewed as a precursor to colorectal cancer.

Eating a diet that is high in fresh produce may diminish the chances of developing colorectal cancer.
Eating a diet that is high in fresh produce may diminish the chances of developing colorectal cancer.

Two other factors that may increase colorectal cancer risk are age and family history. As an individual moves into advanced age, susceptibility to many cancers increases, including colorectal cancer. Most diagnoses occur in individuals in the 60 to 80 age bracket.

If an individual contracts colorectal cancer before the age of 50, hereditary influences are frequently to blame. Individuals with parents, siblings, or children who have been diagnosed with the disease carry a significantly higher colorectal cancer risk themselves. Three hereditary conditions appear to have a strong association with colorectal malignancies: Gardner Syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer impacts the lower digestive system and the excretory system.
Colorectal cancer impacts the lower digestive system and the excretory system.

Physical health can also influence colorectal cancer risk. Some researchers claim a link between low-fiber, low-fruit and vegetable diets that are high in processed meat and the development of this type of cancer. This association may explain the fact that individuals with chronic ulcer problems or diabetes have a higher incidence of the cancers. Other groups with elevated rates of colorectal cancer are smokers, frequent drinkers of alcohol, and those with sedentary lifestyles.

Treatments may vary, with the surgical removal of tumors presenting one option. Further, chemical or radiological treatments may be targeted toward killing cancer cells. In any event, cancers that do not infiltrate muscle layers tend to have a higher overall successful treatment rate. Treatment of a cancer that is localized and has not spread to other areas of the body also yields more effective outcomes. Any individuals at risk for colorectal cancer should receive frequent screenings, particularly since this type of cancer tends to grow at a slow rate.

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    • Polyps in the colon can be a precursor to colorectal cancer.
      By: Alila Medical Media
      Polyps in the colon can be a precursor to colorectal cancer.
    • Eating a diet that is high in fresh produce may diminish the chances of developing colorectal cancer.
      By: marucyan
      Eating a diet that is high in fresh produce may diminish the chances of developing colorectal cancer.
    • Colorectal cancer impacts the lower digestive system and the excretory system.
      By: rob3000
      Colorectal cancer impacts the lower digestive system and the excretory system.