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Decoding Colorectal Cancer: Risk Factors and Early Detection

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in either the colon or rectum. It is a very common type of cancer, and it is estimated that one in every twenty-five men and women will develop this type of cancer in their lifetime. While cancer may feel scary, it is important to remember that early detection and treatment can make all the difference.


The first step towards tackling colorectal cancer is knowing the factors that put you at risk. Age is one of the risk factors of colorectal cancer, and it is more common in people aged 50 and above. Other than that, a lifestyle that involves a diet that is high in processed and red meat, low in fruits and veggies, and devoid of fiber, together with a lack of exercise can increase the likelihood of getting colorectal cancer. Another important factor is family history, meaning if you or any of your family members have had colorectal cancer or colon polyps, your chances of developing it increase. Lastly, inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can also increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Early detection of colorectal cancer involves screening, which means looking for cancer in someone without any symptoms. Screening tests are important because they help to make sure cancer is detected early and before it becomes too advanced.

  • Colonoscopy is the most common screening test for colorectal cancer, whereby a medical professional examines the entire colon using a flexible tube with a tiny camera attached to it. The camera allows them to view the entire lining of the colon and remove any polyps found during the procedure. Polyps are not cancerous but can potentially become cancerous over time if not detected.
  • Another screening test is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which checks for blood in the stool. It is a very simple test, where you collect a stool sample and send it to a lab. If any blood is found in your stool, then a colonoscopy will be recommended to examine your colon's lining.
  • Lastly, sigmoidoscopy is a screening test that checks for polyps or cancer in the rectum and lower part of the colon. It is similar to a colonoscopy but only examines the lower part of the colon.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea or constipation, or passing narrow stools, call your doctor and ask about getting screened for colorectal cancer. While screening is important for early detection, so is listening to your body and being aware of any unusual changes.


As scary as colorectal cancer may sound, remember that early detection and timely treatment can make all the difference. Knowing your risk factors, making necessary lifestyle changes, and going for regular screenings can help prevent or catch colorectal cancer early. Trust in your body and communicate with your medical professional if you have any concerns or symptoms. Stay knowledgeable about your health, and know that we are here for you every step of the way.