Q: Can colorectal cancer affect both young and old people?
A: Yes. The majority of colorectal cancer cases occur in people at the age of 50 and above, but colorectal cancer is also known to affect younger individuals at a lower rate. In fact, the number of colorectal cancer cases detected in adults younger than 50 (some as young as their 20s) has increased over the past decade. The good news is that with early screening and prevention, the incidence rates in patients older than 50 has continued to decrease over the years.
Q: Is colorectal cancer genetic or inherited?
A: Studies have shown that individuals have a higher chance of developing colorectal cancer when there is a close family member or family history with the disease. It is recommended to get a colonoscopy at an earlier age (most guidelines recommend 40) if someone in your family has colorectal cancer.
There are also a few known gene mutations that increase the risk of colorectal cancer; the most common ones are Lynch syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP).
Lynch syndrome is a type of cancer syndrome and gene mutation that increases the risk of colon cancer as well as other diseases linked to the digestive and reproductive systems.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) is a condition where individuals develop many polyps in their colon, growing up to hundreds or thousands as their age increases.
Individuals with inherited genes and family history only account for 30% to 40% of all colorectal cancer cases. The majority of colorectal cancer cases are actually detected in patients who have no prior family history or genetic mutations that increase their risk.
Q: What causes colorectal cancer?
A: Nobody knows what exactly causes polyps to develop into cancerous polyps, but there are several risk factors that are associated with the disease:
- An unhealthy diet (low fruits and vegetables, high-fat and high in processed meats)
- Lack of regular physical activity
- Overweight or obesity
- Family history
- Tobacco usage
- Heavy alcohol use
These are modifiable risk factors that can be changed to help you prevent colorectal cancer.
For more information on the symptoms, stages, myths and facts about colorectal cancer, read more here: https://www.islandhospital.com/medical-info/en/colon-cancer