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Assessing Your Colon Cancer Risk

  1. Do you have any of these symptoms?

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool

  • Recent change in bowel habits

  • Narrow pencil-thin stool

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Anemia (low blood count)

These might be signs of colon cancer. If you have any, consult a


  1. Are you 45 or older? Colon cancer risk increases with age beginning at about 45, and doubles each decade thereafter, peaking at 75 to 80. Those over 45 should consider regular screening checks for colon cancer.

  2. Do you have a history of previous colorectal cancer? A history of colon cancer means a five to ten percent chance of reoccurance.

  3. Do you have a history of colonic polyps? Most of these small growths on the inside lining of the bowel are benign (noncancerous) but some can develop into cancer.

  4. Do you have a family history of colon cancer of familial polyposis? Having a blood relative with colon cancer increases your risk slightly. Some families have an inherited tendency to develop extensive polyps throughout the colon, a condition who do not treat it have nearly a 100 percent chance of developing colon cancer. Symptoms of these polyps usually develop during childhood.

  5. Do you have ulcerative colitis? People with inflammatory bowel disease (not to be confused with “spastic colon” or “functional bowel disease”) have an increased risk of developing colon cancer.

If you answer “yes” to any of the above questions, be sure to discuss it with your physician.

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