There is no single cause of colon cancer. Did you know that early on, nearly all colon cancers begin as noncancerous (benign) polyps, which then slowly develop into cancer? That’s right – most colon cancers are preventable, if diagnosed early enough. Yet people still die from this illness, the largest group being African American men.
You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you:
• Are older than 60
• Are African American of eastern European descent
• Eat a diet high in red or processed meats
• Have cancer elsewhere in the body
• Have colorectal polyps
• Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
• Have a family history of colon cancer
• Have a personal history of breast cancer
Here are some of the best steps you can take to prevent colon cancer:
1.Get screened for colon cancer
People with an average risk of colon cancer can consider screening beginning at age 50. But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner. African-Americans and American Indians may begin colon cancer screening at age 40.
Several screening options exist — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you. Options may include:
2. Make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk