From age 50 on, most people are advised to get a colonoscopy every 10 years to screen for colon cancer. But others may need to start screening earlier due to certain risk factors, an expert says.
People most at risk for colon cancer are those with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) who has had the disease.
Someone with more than one family member who has had colon cancer is three to 12 times more likely to develop the disease than the average person, said Dr. Walter Koltun. He is chief of colon and rectal surgery at Penn State Health Medical Center.
Also at increased risk for colon cancer: those with a family history of gynecological cancers, such as breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer; men who've had radiation treatment for prostate cancer; and people with inflammatory bowel disease or colitis, Koltun said.
A personal or family history of colon polyps also raises your risk of colon cancer.
So it's important to know your family history and to follow colon cancer screening recommendations, he advised.
According to a March 2017 study from American Cancer Society researchers, the rate of colon and rectal cancer is increasing disproportionately in young and middle-aged adults.
"You should talk to your doctor sooner rather than later," Koltun said in a medical center news release.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on colon cancer screening.
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