Cancer Risk

Cancer Risk

Age: Everyone can have colon cancer, fifty year old people and older are more vulnerable. Why?  As people age, the cells don’t repair damages as well as younger people, and genetic mutations within the colon tissue may cause cells to have excessive growth activity.

Gender: Men and women can develop cancer of the colon, but men are a little more likely to get colorectal cancer.

Ethnicity: In the U.S., cancer rates are higher among Japanese-Americans, African-Americans, and non-Hispanic whites compared to other ethnic groups.

Worldwide: Colon cancer rates are highest in Northern and Western Europe, Australia and North America, and are lowest in Africa and Asia. One of the most obvious clues is that, diet is related to colon cancer risks. Immigrants who come from a region with a lower rate of colon cancer (for example Japan); to a region with a higher rate of colon cancer (like the United States.); end up mimicking the higher cancer rate after the first and second generations. If this disease were completely genetic, then we would not see such risk shift.  The following types of people are considered to have higher risk for colon cancer:

  • If a child, sibling, or parent has polyps or cancer of the colon, then a person has 2 to 4 times the risk (based on studies by Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Columbia University).
  • A family history of uterine, breast, liver, ovarian, or stomach cancer also may increase the probability.
  • A past history of polyps may triple the risk.
  • Your risk of developing this cancer also increases by thirty percent if you have had chronic inflammatory conditions, like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis for 8 years or more.
  • As mentioned by the Harvard Health Letter, individuals with at least one ‘first degree’ relative (father, mother, child, or sibling) who had colorectal and endometrial or ovarian cancers; can have higher genetic predisposition to this disease. They should get early screening and possibly more often compared to the general population.
  • A person who smokes often or with sedentary (having a little physical activity level) lifestyle has more risk for colorectal cancer.
  • People, who don’t have genetic or other specific factors or symptoms putting them at high colon cancer risk, are automatically regarded as having average risk if they reach age fifty. The chance of an average risk individual developing dangerous colorectal cancer is 1 in 19.
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