Proactive Ways to Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and Harken Health wants to help you understand this serious disease. Colon cancer is among the top three most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to recent studies1.

Colorectal cancer primarily impacts individuals over the age of 50, however, recent studies have shown increasing cases of the disease among young adults2. While researchers believe this may be related to poor dietary habits, the most important risk factors for colorectal cancer are age and family history.

You can reduce your risk of colon cancer through a healthy lifestyle plan which you and your Harken Care Team can create together. Studies show that the following may help prevent colon cancer:

  • Getting plenty of physical activity
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Limiting your alcohol use
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include unexplained weight loss, changes in bowel habits, blood in stool and abdominal pain, but it’s important to remember that some people will have no symptoms at all.

Because colorectal cancer can spread to other parts of the body over time, early identification is key to saving lives. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force4 strongly recommends that men and women complete preventive screenings beginning at age 50.  While there are several high-quality options for colorectal cancer screening, colonoscopies and special tests that detect blood in stool are the most common.

It’s important to talk to your provider about your symptoms and individual risk factors to come up with a screening plan that works for you. And remember, your Health Coach at the Harken Health Center is an excellent resource for understanding ways to prevent colon cancer, and setting goals around the risk factors that are within your control!


About the Author

Erica Webb is a care provider at Harken Health in Decatur. She received her nurse practitioners licensure from Yale University with a concentration in diabetes, LGBTQ and global health. She loves camping, hiking and swimming in lakes or oceans, but is also a big fan of curling up in a comfy chair with a book and a big mug of coffee.


1Screening for colorectal cancer: Strategies in patients at average risk. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2017, from cancer screening&selectedTitle=1~107

2Siegel, R. L., Fedewa, S. A., Anderson, W. F., Miller, K. D., Ma, J., Rosenberg, P. S., & Jemal, A. (2017, February 28). Colorectal Cancer Incidence Patterns in the United States, 1974–2013. Retrieved March 07, 2017, from

3What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colorectal Cancer? (2016, April 25). Retrieved March 07, 2017, from

4Final Update Summary: Colorectal Cancer: Screening – US Preventive Services Task Force. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2017, from


Content is for general informational purposes only and not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. If you’re a Harken member, see your Harken Health Care Team or physician for medical advice personalized to your situation.

Harken Health Insurance Company does not determine what care is provided to patients at the Harken Health Centers.

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