Bowel cancer

Cancer risk

Bowel cancer

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Even if you have already been treated for cancer, reducing your risk factors may lower the chance of your cancer coming back.

You might also want to talk to your family members about reducing their cancer risk.

What are risk factors?

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting cancer. 

Having a risk factor doesn't mean you will definitely develop cancer but it means you are more likely to get it than someone without the risk factor. For example, people who smoke cigarettes are much more likely to get lung cancer than those who don’t.

Bowel cancer risk factors

Some risk factors can’t be changed, like your age or family background. Others risk factors are called lifestyle risk factors. These are factors that you can change.

Risk factors for bowel cancer that can’t be changed

  • age – the risk for bowel cancer increases with age
  • gender – men have a slightly increased risk of getting bowel cancer
  • family history – especially when diagnosed before 60 years of age
  • hereditary conditions – there are some rare genetic conditions that have an increased rate of bowel cancer e.g. Lynch Syndrome
  • bowel conditions – having inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or polyps can increase your chance of developing bowel cancer.

 Lifestyle risk factors

  • smoking
  • drinking alcohol 
  • having a diet high in red meat and processed foods
  • being overweight or obese 
  • lack of exercise.

Reducing your cancer risk

Improving your lifestyle is an important way to lower your chance of developing cancer. Taking care of yourself in this way can also have other positive effects on your health.

Things you can do include:

  • eating a healthy, well balanced diet
  • staying active and exercising regularly
  • don’t smoke
  • limiting how much alcohol you drink
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • protecting your skin from too much sun.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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