Check your risk for colorectal cancer


reviewed 10/25/2018

Colorectal cancer risk assessment

Answering the following questions can help you learn more about your possible risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.

Do you have a parent, brother, sister or child who has had colorectal cancer?

If you answered "yes." Having a family history can increase your risk, especially if your family member developed cancer at a young age or if two or more of your relatives had the disease at any age. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should talk to their doctors about beginning screening for the disease before age 50 (the age at which screening is recommended for the general population).

If you answered "no." While having a family history of colorectal cancer can increase your risk for the disease, it's important to remember that most people who develop the disease don't have a family history.

Have you had colorectal cancer?

If you answered "yes." If you've had colorectal cancer before, you have an increased risk of developing it again, even if the first cancer was completely removed.

If you answered "no." If you've had colorectal cancer before, you have an increased risk of developing it again, even if the first cancer was completely removed.

Have you had colorectal polyps?

If you answered "yes." Having adenomatous polyps can increase your risk for cancer—especially if you have many of them or they are large.

If you answered "no." Having adenomatous polyps can increase your risk for cancer—especially if you have many of them or they are large.

Are you older than 50?

If you answered "yes." The chances of developing colorectal cancer increase after age 50. In fact, more than 90 percent of people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50.

If you answered "no." While most people who develop colorectal cancer are older than 50, younger adults can still develop the disease.

Do you have an inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease?

If you answered "yes." Over time, diseases that cause inflammation of the colon can raise the risk for cancer. If you have one of these diseases, you'll need to be screened for colorectal cancer more often than a person at average risk. Your doctor can help you decide on an appropriate screening schedule.

If you answered "no." Over time, diseases that cause inflammation of the colon can raise the risk for cancer. If you have one of these diseases, you'll need to be screened for colorectal cancer more often than a person at average risk. Your doctor can help you decide on an appropriate screening schedule.

Do you eat a lot of red or processed meats?

If you answered "yes." Eating a lot of red or processed meats can increase your risk for colorectal cancer. Meanwhile, diets high in fruits and vegetables have been linked to a decreased risk for colorectal cancer.

If you answered "no." Not eating a lot of red or processed meats means you're avoiding a potential risk factor for colorectal cancer. If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, you're doing even better. Diets high in fruits and vegetables have been linked to a decreased risk for colorectal cancer.

Do you get little or no physical activity?

If you answered "yes." There are many reasons for you to try to get more exercise. To help prevent cancer, get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise spread throughout the week.

If you answered “No, I regularly exercise.” Great! Regular exercise can help your health in a variety of ways. To help prevent cancer, get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise spread throughout the week.

Are you obese?

If you answered "yes." Being obese increases your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer.

If you answered "no." Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your health in many ways. Take steps to maintain your weight by staying active and eating right.

Do you smoke?

If you answered "yes." Long-term smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer.

If you answered "no." Not smoking is a healthy choice. Long-term smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer.

Results

Each question to which you answered yes is one risk factor for colorectal cancer. No matter how many (or how few) risk factors you have, regular screening for colorectal cancer is one of the best ways to stop the disease. Screening helps detect cancers early, when treatment is more effective. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 90 percent of people whose colorectal cancer is found and treated before it has spread survive at least five years.

Screening tests are generally recommended beginning at age 50, even if you have no symptoms. Earlier tests may be recommended depending on your family history and other factors.

Source: American Cancer Society

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