Colorectal Cancer ScreeningAt a Glance Screening & Results Your Risk Factors Myths & Facts Resources
Get the FIT – the colorectal cancer screening test which is easy to use, non-invasive and can be done at home.
How to know if you’re at risk for colorectal cancer
There are several things that can make a difference to your chances of getting colorectal cancer. Understanding colon cancer risks will help you stay in control of your health.
Factors you can’t change
Some of the things that affect your chances of getting colorectal cancer are simply beyond your control. Here are a few things that may put you at a higher risk for developing the disease:
- Age: This is the most common risk factor for colorectal cancer. 90% of cases are in individuals 50 years of age or older. Men and women 50 years or older should be screened regularly.
- Sex: Men and women have an equal chance of developing colon cancer. However, men are twice as likely to develop rectal cancer.
- Family history: If there’s a history of colon cancer or rectal cancer with your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter (a ‘first-degree relative’), especially if that person was younger than 60 when they had it, you are at higher risk. Or, if there’s a history of advanced polyps in a first-degree relative you may be at higher risk as well.
- Personal history: If you’ve had colon cancer before, or a history of polyps or adenomas, you may be at higher risk. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to see how your history affects you.
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s colitis: If you have inflammatory bowel disease affecting the colon you’re at higher risk due to inflammation in the lining of the colon.
While you can’t change things like your age, sex or history, you can take matters into your own hands by planning to be screened regularly. Early detection can stop cancer early before it has a chance to progress – and, in many cases, it’s even possible to prevent the disease.
How you can reduce your risk
You’re the only one who can truly take care of you, and by treating yourself well you can help to decrease colorectal cancer risks.
Here are a few modifiable colorectal cancer risk factors, or things you can change, that are known to reduce risk:
- Plan on getting screened regularly — take the FIT home stool test every year.
- Stay at a healthy body weight.
- Get regular exercise every day (ideally 30 minutes or more) — even if it’s a brisk walk or some yard work.
- Have fewer alcoholic drinks.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco in the form of snuff or chew.
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.
- Eat more fiber-rich foods like whole grains, beans, lentils, peas and bran.
- Eat less saturated fats that are found in foods like red meat and whole milk dairy products.
Why not try the risk assessment tool now and see if you should be screened?
Visit HealthierTogether.ca to learn more about ways to reduce your colorectal cancer risk.