Am I at Risk?

Who gets colorectal cancer?

Anyone can get colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer for men and women combined (except for skin cancers), and it is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States. It is expected to cause more than 51,000 deaths in 2019. More than 101,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, and more than 44,000 are diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Does food intolerance or lactose intolerance increase your risk for colon or rectal cancer?

Very little hard data exists indicating that consumption of lactose products or that lactose intolerance is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. However, much new literature suggests that probiotic therapy is healthy and that the microflora of the colon may be altered by dietary dairy products so that the risk for colon cancer is lessened.

Is there a connection between stomach cancer and colorectal cancer?

There is no association between stomach (gastric) cancer and colon cancer, except in individuals with Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC). This is a rare genetic syndrome in which affected individuals are at risk of colorectal cancer, as well as other cancers including gastric cancer, at a young age. Individuals with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, or colon cancer and endometrial (uterus) cancer, may have this syndrome and may warrant genetic testing and/or screening with colonoscopy.

Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome a risk factor for developing colorectal cancer?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional problem of the gut, usually characterized by patterns of diarrhea and loose stools alternating with constipation. IBS may also be associated with abdominal cramping and pain. IBS is not associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Patients with IBS have normal life expectancies but should follow the recommended screening guidelines appropriate to their population. If your IBS symptoms change from their usual behavior or regular pattern, or if you see blood in your stool, notify your physician and gastroenterologist.

Can I inherit risk factors for colorectal cancer? 

There are two hereditary syndromes that are important risk factors for colorectal cancer. Read more about these below.  What other things can increase my risk?  It is thought that consuming red meat, being overweight, smoking, alcohol use, and older age can all contribute to a higher risk for colorectal cancer.