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Colon Cancer Center

Colorectal Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

What causes colon cancer?
There is no single cause for colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as non-cancerous (benign) polyps, which slowly develop into cancer.

Risk factors
Overall, the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19 (5.4%). The following list outlines possible factors that might contribute to the development of colorectal cancer.

  • Diet - Colon cancer may be associated with a high-fat, low-fiber diet and red meat. However, some studies found that the risk does not drop if you switch to a high-fiber diet, so the cause of the link is not yet clear.
  • Family history - People with several cases of colorectal cancer in the family may develop colorectal cancer more often than those without.
  • Gender - This risk for colorectal cancer is slightly higher in men than in women.
  • Genes - Certain genetic syndromes may increase the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Other medical conditions - You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you have been diagnosed with:
    • Cancer elsewhere in the body
    • Colorectal polyps
    • Crohn's disease
    • Family history of colon cancer
    • Personal history of breast cancer
    • Ulcerative colitis
  • Smoking - Smoking cigarettes is another risk factor for colorectal cancer.

Identifying signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can lead to earlier diagnosis, treatment, and remission. Continue reading the next section about Colorectal Cancer Symptoms to prepare yourself and learn more about colon cancer early symptoms.

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