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Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?
Not counting skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there are approximately 106,000 new cases of colon cancer and 40,800 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed each year. Personal risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19.
Death rates from colorectal cancer have been declining for the past 15 years, primarily due to early detection and treatment. Thanks to colorectal screening, polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer and cancer can be found earlier when it is easier to cure. Treatments have also improved dramatically.
The majority of colorectal tumors are found in patients over age 50. Other risk factors include:
- personal or family history of colon cancer, particularly younger than age 60
- history of polyps in the colon, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease
- ethnicity; for reasons not understood, African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have higher risk
- lifestyle choices such as diets high in fat and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables; lack of exercise; overweight; smoking and alcohol consumption