Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and the third-most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. Early detection is more likely when people get regular screenings and are aware of the risk factors.

At UT Southwestern, we offer comprehensive preventive tests for patients who want to reduce their colorectal cancer risk.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Age. Most colorectal cancer is diagnosed in patients older than age 50. The median age at the time of diagnosis is 68 in men and 72 in women.
  • Race. African Americans have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to other racial groups.
  • Personal history. A prior personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Family history. A history of colorectal cancer or polyps in the family also increases the cancer risk.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease. This disease, which involves chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, raises the risk of cancer.
  • Cancer syndromes. Inherited genes can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, even at a young age. Such genes may result in a condition known as a cancer syndrome. The most common of these syndromes includes Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatosis polyposis. Genetic testing can be done in patients who are suspected of having a cancer syndrome.
  • Lifestyle. Lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, a lack of physical activity, and the consumption of red meat and alcohol can raise the cancer risk.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer starts as small polyps (growths in the wall of the colon or rectum). In its early stages, colorectal cancer might not produce any symptoms.

When symptoms do occur, they include:

  • Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
  • Blood in the stool
  • Bloating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Abdominal pain