Rectal Cancer (cont.)
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What Are Rectal Cancer Causes and Risk Factors?
Rectal cancer usually develops over several years, first growing as a precancerous growth called a polyp. Some polyps have the ability to turn into cancer and begin to grow and penetrate the wall of the rectum. The actual cause of rectal cancer is unclear. However, the following are risk factors for developing rectal cancer:
Family history is a factor in determining the risk of rectal cancer. If a family history of colorectal cancer is present in a first-degree relative (a parent or a sibling), then endoscopy of the colon and rectum should begin 10 years before the age of the relative's diagnosis or at age 50 years, whichever comes first. An often forgotten risk factor, but perhaps the most important, is the lack of screening for rectal cancer. Routine cancer screening of the colon and rectum is the best way to prevent rectal cancer. Genetics may play a role as Lynch syndrome, an inherited disorder also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC, increases the risk of many cancers, including rectal. Although human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are more related to anal cancer and squamous cell cancers around the anus and anal canal, some studies show that they can also be related to rectal cancer. Because some rectal cancers may be associated with HPV infections, it may be possible that HPV vaccination could reduce the chance of getting some rectal cancers.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017
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