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Colorectal Cancer: Risk Factors and Screening

Colorectal Cancer: Risk Factors and Screening

March 5, 2024

Did you know that in the United States, 16 people every hour are diagnosed with colorectal cancer? The good news is, 9 out of 10 people survive colorectal cancer when it is found and treated early.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the NYCDCCBF would like to help our members learn more about this cancer, the risk factors associated with it, and the importance of screenings.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer occurs when a cancer begins in the colon or rectum. Depending on where the cancer starts, it may be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer. Most colorectal cancers start as a polyp (or growth) on the lining of colon or rectum.

What are my Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?

You are at average risk if you are 45 or older and have:

      • No symptoms
      • Never had colorectal cancer, and your close family members have never had the disease
      • Never had polyps in your colon or rectum
      • Never had inflammatory bowel disease



You are at higher risk for colorectal cancer if you:

  • Are age 45 or older
  • Have had precancer polyps on a screening test
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Have a close blood relative who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer before they were age 50
  • Have a family history of other cancers, such as stomach, urinary tract, pancreatic, uterine, or brain cancer
  • Are overweight or obese

Your race can also play a role in your risk of getting colorectal cancer. In the United States, colorectal cancers affect the Black community at a higher rate than any other race.

Why Colorectal Screening Matters

While there are several types of screening tests for colorectal cancer, the best screening method is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can catch cancer earlier when it’s easier to treat.

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) recommends that people at average risk for colorectal cancer begin getting screened at age 45. MSK recommends that people at higher risk speak with their healthcare provider about when to start screening.

To learn more about MSK’s colorectal cancer screening recommendations, visit

NYCDCC and MSK Direct

Please be reminded that the NYCDCC Welfare Fund has a partnership with MSK Direct to provide members and your families the highest-quality cancer programs and services, virtually or in-person, to help navigate your unique journey of screening and prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and life beyond cancer.

If you or a family member are impacted by cancer and would like to discuss treatment options at MSK, call the dedicated MSK Direct phone line for NYCDCC participants and dependents at (844) 386-3368 or visit