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Risk Factors & Symptoms

Risk Factors

People at increased risk for colorectal cancer may need to start screening at an earlier age and get tested more frequently than other people. You may be at increased risk if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • You have certain genetic syndromes, like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (also known as Lynch syndrome).
  • Getting screened for colorectal cancer as recommended can reduce your risk for developing this disease. 
  • Screening finds precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting screened.


Don’t wait for symptoms to be tested for colorectal cancer. Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms. But if there are symptoms, they may include:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
  • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
  • Losing weight and you don’t know why.
  • These symptoms also can be associated with other health conditions.  If you have any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. Only your doctor can determine the cause.

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

Centers for Disease Control. (2009) ”Risk factors and symptoms [Brochure]"

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