Reducing Risk for Colorectal Cancer

What to know

  • The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly, beginning at age 45.

Steps you can take

a man and a woman making a salad
A diet low in animal fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. They may not cause any symptoms, especially early on. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.


Research is underway to find out if changes to your diet can reduce your colorectal cancer risk. Medical experts often recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. This diet also may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Healthy choices

Some studies suggest that people may reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco.

Strangers with Colons: Bryce and Rahman

In this video, Bryce and Rahman answer questions about prep, the procedure, and the follow up for this colorectal cancer screening option. A 30-second version is also available.