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Risk Factors & Prevention

The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. Fortunately, it’s also highly preventable when you stay on top of your health.

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we offer the education you need to take charge, plus a variety of preventive services to help identify your personal risk for colorectal cancer and catch any issue before it becomes serious.

Read on for more information. To make your appointment with a caring specialist, find a gastroenterologist online.

Understand Your Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

There are several factors believed to increase your risk of developing precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer. Some of these factors can’t be changed, including your age—more than 90 percent of people diagnosed are older than 50. Other uncontrollable factors include family history, racial and ethnic background, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

The good news? There are also a number of lifestyle factors you can control. In fact, the link between these factors are some of the strongest for any type of cancer—so making a few simple changes may help dramatically reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight, especially in the midsection, is associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women.
  • Eat right: A diet high in red and processed meats can raise your colorectal cancer risk. On the other hand, eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain fibers have been linked with a lower risk.
  • Be physically active: Moderate exercise a few hours per week can help keep you healthy.
  • Limit alcohol: Keeping to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women can have many health benefits, including a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Stop smoking: People who have smoked for a long time are more likely than non-smokers to develop colorectal cancer.

Take Control with Our Preventive Programs

If you think you may be at higher risk for colorectal cancer, or just want to stay proactive, we offer comprehensive prevention services at locations throughout Kentucky.

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

If you’re over age 45, or have a strong family history of colorectal cancer, getting screened is your most powerful defense. Most polyps can be found and removed before they ever have the chance to become cancer. Screenings can also find colorectal cancer early, when it is highly curable.

CHI Saint Joseph Health offers colonoscopy screenings near where you live and work. The test is fast, simple and could help save your life.

Speak with your primary care provider to learn more about a screening colonoscopy. If you don’t have a primary care provider, call 859.313.2255.

Genetic Cancer Counseling

About 5 percent to 10 percent of colorectal cancers are caused by a gene mutation that can be passed on from parent to child. The most common types of these hereditary cancers are called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which typically causes hundreds of colon polyps, and Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we offer genetic counseling for individuals or families with inherited colorectal cancer concerns. If needed, your counselor will also coordinate genetic testing, walk through the results and discuss next steps. Learn more about our genetic cancer program.

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