Experts are not completely sure why colorectal cancer develops in some people and not others. However, several risk factors have been identified over the years. Risk factors for colorectal cancer can be divided into two main groups: those that you cannot change and those that are related to your lifestyle.
UNMODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS:
- Age: The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. The disease is more common in people over the age of 50 and the chance of developing colorectal cancer increases with each decade. However, colorectal cancer has also been known to develop in younger people as well.
- Type II Diabetes
- Personal history of colorectal polyps/cancer
- Personal history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Inherited syndromes: Genetic syndromes passed through generations of one’s family can increase one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Racial & ethnic background: African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) are the two groups most affected by colorectal cancer.
- Personal history of other cancers
LIFESTYLE-RELATED RISK FACTORS:
- Sedentary lifestyle/physical inactivity
- Alcohol consumption
DID YOU KNOW?
Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop. Screening is critical.
The left side of the colon is narrower than the right colon. Therefore, cancers of the left colon are more likely to cause partial or complete bowel obstruction. This can cause symptoms of constipation, narrowed stool, diarrhea, abdominal pains, cramps and bloating.
DID YOU KNOW?
Being physically inactive is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. A simple walk around the block can help boost your activity level.
DID YOU KNOW?
Low intake of fruits, vegetables and fibre can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Add colorful vegetables and fruits to your diet.
Many people with colorectal cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they will likely vary depending on the cancer’s size and location in the large intestine, also known as the colorectum. Studies suggest that the average duration of symptoms (from onset to diagnosis) is 14 weeks. There is no association between overall duration of symptoms and the stage of the tumour. Therefore, it is best to get regular screenings rather than rely on colorectal cancer symptoms to alert one to the presence of a tumour. This is because colorectal cancer can grow for years before causing any symptoms. However, knowing colorectal cancer symptoms may save you or a loved one. Typical symptoms resulting from colorectal cancer are:
- Narrow stools
- Abdominal cramps
- Bloody stools
- Unexplained weight loss/loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
- Nausea & vomiting
- Gas & bloating