Factors that increase your risk for colon polyps or colorectal cancer

Some people may need to begin routine testing for colorectal cancer earlier than age 50 and have it more often. You may need earlier or more frequent testing if you:

  • Already have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with an adenomatous polyp or colorectal cancer.
  • Are an African American. The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that African Americans start routine testing for colorectal cancer at age 45.
  • Have had adenomatous polyps removed from your colon. This type of polyp is more likely to turn into cancer, but the risk is still very low.
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
  • Have a rare inherited polyp syndrome.
  • Have had radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis.

If you have an increased risk for colon polyps, the frequency of your screening depends on your overall health, age, and combination of other risk factors. Talk with your doctor about the types and frequency of tests that will be best for you and your level of risk.

Last Updated: April 28, 2009

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