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Risk Factors

Though scientists are unsure of exactly what causes colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified, including:

  • Age
  • Polyps (growths inside the colon and rectum) that may become cancerous
  • A high-fat diet
  • Family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases involving the colon
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Radiation therapy for cancer

It’s important to note that almost 80 percent of colon cancer cases have no prior family history. Most cases have no symptoms. Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk should get screened. If you have one or more risk factors, you may need to get screened earlier or more frequently. Click here to find out the various screening methods.