About Colorectal Cancer


  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having bowel movement
  • Dark or black stools
  • A change in bowel habits or the shape of the stool (e.g., more narrow than usual)
  • Cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • An urge to have a bowel movement when the bowel is empty

CRC Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society separates risks for developing Colorectal Cancer into two groups: factors you can change, factures you cannot change.1

Risk factors you can change

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diet – diet’s high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (like hot dogs and some luncheon meats)
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use

Risk factors you cannot change

  • Age – increases with age
  • A personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Having family members who have had adenomatous polyps is also linked to a higher risk of colon cancer.
  • Inherited syndrome - About 5% of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene changes (mutations) that cause family cancer syndromes and can lead to them getting the disease.
    • Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC)
    • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
    • Rare inherited syndromes linked to colorectal cancer
      • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS):
      • MYH-associated polyposis (MAP):
  • Racial and ethnic background
    • African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the US.
    • Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.
  • Type 2 diabetes

1 For more information, visit the American Cancer Society web site on Colorectal cancer.