Reduce Your Colon Cancer Risk - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on June 10, 2013

Reduce Your Colon Cancer Risk

Here’s the bad news: colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the country. But the good news is that you have the ability to lower your chances of developing it.

Here are some ways you can reduce your risk of colon cancer and stay healthy well into your golden years. 

As with all types of cancer, screening plays a vital role. Since it can detect cancer before it has time to advance, early treatments can increase your chances of entering remission. But don’t wait too long before having an exam—the initial stages of colon cancer have no symptoms, so frequent screenings are going to be key in combating it or preventing it altogether.

So when should you start? Those with a normal risk of colon cancer should begin screening at age 50, while those at a higher risk (family or personal history, or IBD, or other type of cancer) should talk to their doctor about receiving screenings earlier on. 

In addition to scanning for cancer multiple times a year, you can also make some simple lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy weight is important in preventing colon cancer; obesity is a major risk factor. Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day and following a low-fat diet are great ways to stay healthy and maintain a good weight. Your diet should include plenty of fiber (about 25-30 grams a day), as well as a variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, whole grain breads, cereals and leafy green vegetables. Avoid red and processed meats, as well as foods high in saturated fats, since they have also been linked to colon cancer.

And as far as your guilty pleasures, such as drinking and smoking go, both have been found to raise your risk of not only colon cancer, but other types of gastrointestinal cancers as well. So it’s time to quit smoking if you haven’t already, and keep your drinking at a moderate level.

If you’re not already openly communicating with your doctor about any symptoms you might frequently experience, definitely get in the habit of doing so. You may require urgent screening to see if colon cancer is present. Some symptoms of colon cancer include change in bowel habits, blood in your stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal problems.

In extreme cases where ulcerative colitis or certain types of hereditary diseases linked to colon cancer are already present, your doctor may recommend removing the colon to prevent cancer from occurring.

Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441). Crozer-Keystone offers direct-access colonoscopy scheduling, which means that a separate consultation visit at a physician’s office may not be required for qualified individuals.

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