Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, for short, usually develops at age 50 or older. It is the third most common cancer in men and women. Other than certain skin cancers, it is also the third most common cause of cancer death.
Colon cancer should be screened for beginning at age 50 unless there are other risk factors present, such as a family history of the disease. Screenings should continue until age 75. After age 75, consult your primary care provider to see if further screenings are recommended.
A variety of screening tests are available, including colonoscopies, which allow the doctor to look inside the colon. A colonoscopy can identify polyps, which are growths inside the colon that can turn into cancer if not surgically removed.
Behavioral changes can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. The most important of these changes is a change in diet. Diets high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red and processed meats may reduce the risk of colon cancer. These diets help have the added benefit of helping with weight loss. Keeping a healthy weight and keeping belly fat off may also help reduce the risk of colon cancer.