Health Matters Spring 2021 - Page 31

Why is screening so important ?
What are the risk factors for
colorectal cancer ?

Understanding colorectal cancer

No one is immune to cancer . People of all ages and from all walks of life can be diagnosed with cancer , though it ’ s important to recognize the tireless efforts of researchers whose work has done much to improve survival rates for an assortment of cancers .
The work of cancer researchers includes efforts to find treatments but also to learn about the disease , including its risk factors . Identifying the risk factors for certain cancers , including colorectal cancer , can help medical professionals as they advise patients on the best ways to reduce their risk for this deadly , yet often preventable disease .
The World Cancer Research Fund notes that colorectal cancer is the second
most commonly occurring cancer in women and the third most commonly occurring cancer in men . According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States . Estimates from the Canadian Cancer Society predicted that 9,700 Canadians would lose their lives to colorectal cancer in 2020 , representing 12 percent of all cancer deaths in the country .

What is colorectal cancer ?

Sometimes referred to as colon cancer , colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum . The CDC notes that abnormal
growths called polyps sometimes form in the colon or rectum , and these polyps may grow into cancer .

Why is screening so important ?

Screening for colorectal cancer is so important because it can find polyps and give doctors a chance to remove them before they turn into cancer .

What are the risk factors for

colorectal cancer ?

Age is a significant risk factor for colorectal cancer , as the CDC notes that roughly 90 percent of cases occur
in men and women who are 50 or older . In addition to age , a family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps increases a person ’ s risk for the disease . Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn ’ s disease or ulcerative colitis also can increase a person ’ s risk of developing colorectal cancer .
Those factors may be beyond individuals ’ control , but the good news is that there is strong evidence that doing certain things can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer . According to the WCRF , researchers have linked these behaviors with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer :
• being physically active
• consuming whole grains
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