Colon Cancer And Polyps: What You Need To Know

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Colon cancer risk factors The lifetime risk for developing colon cancer is 1-in-18 and over 90% of these cases occur after the age 50. Increasing age, a family history of colon polyps, colon cancer or other early cancers can double or triple your risk for developing this disease. If any of these risk factors run in your family, you need to start the discussion about screening at age 40 or even earlier depending on when your family members were diagnosed. Persons with ulcerative colitis , Crohns disease or a personal history of cancer are also at increased risk for colon cancer and need to tailor regular, more frequent colonoscopies. Studies also indicate that diet and smoking may increase the risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. While family history and other risk factors matter, not having risk factors does not eliminate your need for screenings. What polyps tell us As we age, about 1-in-4 of us develop polyps in our colon and about 10% of these polyps eventually turn from a benign growth into colon cancer. For the most part, these polyps take about 10 years to transform into colon cancer. Polyps and early colon cancers often have no symptoms and can be detected only by screening exams. How can colon cancer best be prevented? There are several effective ways to reduce your colon cancer risk, but none more important than getting timely screenings and removing polyps before they become malignant.

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Reduce risk from cancer-causing polyps

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Health experts recommend that you begin having colorectal screening tests at age 50, or sooner if you or a family member has a history of polyps or colon cancer. Your physician can create a screening schedule appropriate for you, based on your individual level of risk. Of course, instead of detecting and removing polyps, it would be better to prevent them altogether. Research suggests that smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and overweight all increase polyp formation. Advertise Change your diet, lower your risk Many studies have been done to see how a persons eating habits might promote or block the formation of polyps, but specific answers are still lacking. A fiber-rich diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans is commonly associated with a lower risk of colon cancer. Yet in one recent large population study, fiber consumption was unconnected to colon cancer occurrence. No randomized clinical trial the most convincing type of human study has shown that increasing peoples dietary fiber decreases the first appearance or recurrence of polyps either. The problem with the randomized clinical trials so far may be their short duration. None has been more than four years long. It is probable that diets affect on colon cancer takes place over a longer period of time. Despite the lack of supporting evidence from randomized clinical trials, you should still eat the lowfat, mostly plant-based diet researchers recommend to lower colon cancer risk. This eating style might inhibit colon cancer in several ways, such as decreasing polyp formation, slowing the growth of polyps, or blocking their transition from benign to cancerous. Other steps you could take to decrease the formation of colon polyps include limiting your red meat consumption and meeting the current recommendations for folate.


Colon Polyp Return Likelier in Men

Laiyemo tells WebMD that doctors already knew that people who have three or more polyps removed are at significantly increased risk of developing new polyps. In fact, current guidelines, developed by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American Cancer Society, recommend that people with three or more polyps receive another colonoscopy within three years. Colonoscopy a Powerful Prevention Tool Though Laiyemo doesnt suggest altering the guidelines based on one study, he says he hopes the findings will propel more at-risk people to get a colonoscopy in the first place. Men, in particular, never like going for the procedure. Women need to encourage their men to go, he says After age 65, your risk really takes off, so it shows the importance of having colonoscopies as we age, Laiyemo says. And since obesity is a risk factor as well, it offers another reason to get those extra pounds off. Session moderator Alan Kristal, DrPH, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, agrees. Colonoscopy is one of our most powerful tools for prevention because by having polyps removed, you can prevent cancer. This offers a nice overall package of factors that affect risk, telling us who should be targeted for surveillance, he tells WebMD. Men, Older People at Increased Risk For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial, designed to assess the impact of a low-fat, high-fiber diet on polyp recurrence. All the participants had at least one polyp removed before they started following the low-fat diet mandated in the study. Over the next four years, 524 of the participants developed new polyps. Results showed that: People who had multiple polyps removed the first time around were 2.5 times more likely to have a recurrence than those who had one polyp removed. Men were 76% more likely to have a recurrence than women. People aged 65 to 69 were at 87% increased risk compared with younger adults; those aged 70 to 74 had four times the risk of younger adults.

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