What is a bigger factor when it comes to colorectal cancer development?headingContent

Posted on October 23, 2017

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Is diet or genetics a bigger factor when it comes to colorectal cancer development?

Patients always wonder what the biggest factor is when it comes to colorectal cancer development. Many researchers have found that there might be several risk factors that could increase the risk for colorectal cancer.

Could diet be a factor?

Yes, the American Cancer Society suggests diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (and low in red and processed meats) have been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk. These studies show a lower risk of colorectal cancer and polyps with increasing levels of activity. Other studies report avoidance of foods containing highly refined sugar is likely to reduce colon cancer. Mostly, colon cancer is genetic related. We know some of the genes that predispose people to colon cancer or increase their risk for colon cancers at a young age but sometimes a patient develops colon cancer at a young age without having any of the known genes. They may have a gene we don’t know of that can lead to cancer.

Are men or women more prone to develop colorectal cancer?

Men and women are equally affected.

Do pre-cancerous polyps and colorectal cancer cause any symptoms?

Most colorectal polyps do not produce symptoms until they become very large. When colorectal polyps do become large they can start to cause obstruction, the feeling of pressure, a sense of incomplete evacuation or, in some cases, rectal bleeding. Symptoms may also include the following:

  • Blood in or on the stool during or after a bowel movement
  • Stomach pain, aches or cramps that do not go away
  • Unexpected weight loss

In most cases, the polyps removed during colonoscopies are small and asymptomatic. If the polyps are too large to be removed during a colonoscopy, then surgery may be required. The goal during a colorectal screening is to remove those polyps when they are asymptomatic rather than wait until they are big and causing symptoms. This is why it’s important to find colorectal cancer polyps when they are small and before they turn into cancer.

What are the main symptoms of colorectal cancer?

If symptoms do present, they may include:

  • Blood in or on the stool, bowel movement
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away
  • Losing weight and you don’t know why
  • Nuance of constipation

If you experience any of these symptoms, then talk to your primary care doctor or colorectal surgeon.