A nurse is giving health education to a 60-year-old patient diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The patient's son asks the nurse what major factor increases the risk of a person having colorectal cancer. The nurse correctly answers the patient:


•For the majority of people, the major factor that increases a person’s risk for colorectal cancer is increasing age. Therefore the nurse is correct when she replied, age.

•Risk increases dramatically after age 50 years, 90% of all colorectal cancers are diagnosed after this age. The history of colorectal cancer in a first-degree relative, especially if before the age of 55 years, roughly doubles the risk.

•Other risk factors are weaker than age and family history. People with inflammatory bowel disease have a much higher risk of colorectal cancer but increasing age is still the major risk factor. Colorectal cancers occur in less than 5% of people with a genetic predisposition, including familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary non-polyposis coli. Folic acid supplement increases the risk of prostate cancer.

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