Oncology and Cancer Care at St. Luke's Health

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors & Symptoms

It’s important to pay attention to your body to detect any changes that may indicate a health concern. Some common symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, or a change in bowel habits for more than a few days
  • Unusual stool (thin or slimy)
  • Feeling like your bowel won’t completely empty
  • Blood in stool
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent belly pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

Since you may not notice symptoms until the cancer has spread, it’s important to understand your personal risk for colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors

Anyone over the age of 50 is at an average risk for colorectal cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk than women, but regular screenings are important for everyone. Some factors that could increase your risk include:

  • History of colon polyps
  • Previous diagnosis of colon cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Lynch syndrome
  • African American heritage
  • Eastern European Jewish heritage
  • Immediate family member with polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Diet high in red meat or lunch meat

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