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Is it time to be screened for colorectal cancer?

An index finger with sparkly pink nail polish and a blue ribbon tied around it.

March 2, 2019—The American Cancer Society (ACS) is predicting more than 145,000 new cases of colorectal cancer this year. How likely is it you'll be one of them?

That can depend on your risk factors. As for most cancers, there are risk factors that can be changed and those that can't.

For colorectal cancer, risk factors under your control include:

  • Being overweight.
  • Being sedentary.
  • Eating a diet high in red meats or processed meats.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking heavily.

Risk factors you can't change include:

  • A personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer.
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
  • Certain inherited genetic traits.
  • Your racial and ethnic background (being African American or an Ashkenazi Jew).
  • Type 2 diabetes.

Colorectal cancer is one of the top causes of cancer death for both men and women. The good news is the death rate has been going down for decades. And part of that decline is likely due to increased screening for the disease.

According to the ACS, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 90 percent when the cancer is caught early. And that's what screening can do.

The ACS recommends that most people start getting screened at age 45. You can choose to be screened with a test that looks for signs of cancer in your stool. Or you can choose a test that examines your rectum and colon.

Here's more information on your screening choices. Talk to your doctor about the screening option that's most appropriate for you.

Keep 45 alive. If you're 45 or older, it's probably time to start colorectal cancer screenings. Talk to your doctor.

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