• Family History: About 10% of the population has a first degree relative with colon cancer.
First and second degree relatives (like children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces, nephews) of a person with a history of colon cancer are more likely to develop this disease themselves, especially if the relative had the cancer at a young age. If many close relatives have a history of colon cancer, the risk is even greater. Because of this, U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening starting at age 40 for these high-risk individuals or 10 years earlier than the youngest age of colon cancer diagnosis for any affected relative.
• Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
A person who has had a condition that causes inflammation of the colon (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) for many years is at an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Please be sure your doctor is aware of this condition and you are screened accordingly.
Other factors contributing to these diagnoses of people under 50 have not been definitely identified, but we do know they’ve been occurring alongside an increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes – two known colon cancer risk factors. Other factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:
- Certain types of diets
- Inactivity and obesity
- Smoking cigarettes
- Heavy alcohol use
- Racial and ethnic background