How do you know if you’re at risk for colon cancer?

There are a number of risk factors that contribute to developing colon cancer. It’s well known that your risk increases with age, but with younger and younger patients developing the disease, lifestyle factors and family history also come into play.

But, family history and pre-existing conditions aren’t always to blame when it comes to colon cancer.

From her conversation on with Nurse Alice Benjamin and Dr. Scott Metcalfe from Bravo’s Married to Medicine, Dr. O’Connor discusses how your family history and other factors can increase your risk for colon cancer.



Dr. Lynn O’Connor: The indication is if you have a family history, you should be screened 10 years prior to that index case. So in other words, if your mother, your father, had colon cancer at age 40 then you need to be screened at age 30. If they had it at 45, you need to be screened at age 35.

If you have a genetic predisposition, such as FAP, then your screening regimen will be more like every 2 years. If you have inflammatory bowel disease as Dr. Metcalfe talked about like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the longer you have that diagnosis the greater your risk of having colon cancer.

One thing I want people to understand – those are isolated cases. Those are about 25% of the colon cancer cases represented. 75% of people presented with colon cancer are people who present with no family history, no history of polyps, and no predisposing conditions. So they don’t have any of those symptoms. And when you get to the young onset colon cancer patients who are 50 years of age or older, 62% of them present just like that. No symptoms whatsoever, no family history.