Age and health history can affect the risk of developing bowel cancer.
Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer. The risk is greater if you -
- are aged 50 years or over.
- have a family history of bowel cancer.
- have a personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast.
- have a history of polyps in the colon.
- have a history of ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the lining of the large intestine) or Crohn's disease.
- have certain hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC; Lynch Syndrome).
There is emerging evidence regarding type 2 (usually non-insulin dependent) diabetes as a potential risk factor for bowel cancer, however further research is required.
- REMEMBER: However old you are, you should never be told by your doctor that you are too young to have bowel cancer. Whilst bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50+, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
If you have higher-risk symptoms, do not accept 'you're too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation for your symptoms - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.