While diet and lifestyle may contribute to the development of colorectal cancer in those aged 50 and above, genetics may play a bigger role in younger patients. An individual with at least one of the following traits should consider regular endoscopic evaluation and, possibly, genetic screening:
Early cancers have no symptoms: by the time patients with colorectal cancer present with symptoms, most of them would be in the more advanced stages (stages 3 or 4) already. Some symptoms include:
Screening for colorectal cancer saves lives. In the US and northern Europe, the fall in colorectal cancer mortality has been attributed to screening, early detection and prevention — by removing polyps before they turn cancerous. Generally, a person should undergo colonoscopy when he hits 50 years of age if he has no bowel symptoms. If he has any bowel symptoms at anearlier age, he should discuss with his doctor about undergoing colonoscopy. In individuals with a strong family history, defined as multiple first-degree relatives with colorectal cancer or polyps, colonoscopy should start at 40 years old or 10 years younger than the youngest diagnosed individual in the family, whichever is earlier.
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