Bowel Cancer Risk Factors and Screening Options

Age and health history can affect the risk of developing bowel cancer

The major bowel cancer risk factors, for both men and women include:
 
  • Age - risk rises sharply and progressively from the age of 50

  • A family history of bowel cancer

  • A personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast

  • A history of polyps in the colon

  • A history of ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the lining of the large intestine) or Crohn's disease

  • Hereditary conditions, such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC; Lynch Syndrome).
There is emerging evidence regarding type 2 diabetes (usually non-insulin dependent) 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 and over, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
 
If you are experiencing symptoms, do not accept 'you're too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.
 
Download Bowel Cancer Australia's Bowel Cancer Risk and Screening Pathway - Assess your bowel cancer risk and screening options.
 
Bowel Cancer Australia Risk and Screening Pathway