Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Prevention of colorectal cancer

Although the exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing many colon cancers with the following:

  • Diet and exercise
    It is important to manage the risk factors you can control, such as diet and exercise. Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods, and avoiding high-fat, low-fiber foods. Appropriate exercise, even small amounts on a regular basis, can be helpful.
  • Drug therapy
    Recent studies of people with colorectal cancer have suggested that two factors may help reduce the risk of developing this cancer: estrogen replacement therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. Discuss this therapy with your physician. 
  • Screenings
    Perhaps most important to the prevention of colorectal cancer is having screening tests at appropriate ages. Oncology experts at Massey suggest that a substantial number of colorectal cancers could be prevented with screening and removal of precancerous polyps. Because some colorectal cancers cannot be prevented, finding them early is the best way to improve the chance of successful treatment and reduce the number of deaths caused by colorectal cancer. See current screening guidelines.