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Basic Information About Colorectal Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the colon or rectum, it is called colorectal cancer. Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short.

Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people who are 50 years old or older.

Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. Screening can find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best. About nine out of every 10 people whose colorectal cancers are found early and treated appropriately are still alive five years later.

If you are 50 years old or older, get screened now. If you think you may be at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often to get tested.

What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. Other risk factors include having—

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include—

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