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Does Crohn's Disease Raise Your Risk of Colon Cancer?

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Does Crohn's Disease Raise Your Risk of Colon Cancer?

Sep 08, 2023

If you’re living with Crohn’s disease, you already know how challenging flareups can be. 

Managing your diet, avoiding certain triggers, and reducing your stress levels while your symptoms raise your stress levels isn’t an easy feat. An increased risk for cancer seems to be just another worry on your list. 

However, most people with Crohn’s disease never get colon cancer. While it’s true that the longer you have the disease, the higher your risk, there are many ways to screen for colon cancer and ensure any abnormal tissue is removed before it becomes cancerous. 

To help ease your worries, we asked our experts at Carolina Digestive Health Associates to explain what could increase a Crohn’s sufferer’s risk of colon cancer and how to mitigate this risk. 

Understanding how Crohn’s may raise your risk for colon cancer

Crohn’s is an inflammatory disease. When inflammation is persistent, the cells inside your colon may become abnormal. However, with less flareups, there’s less inflammation in your colon. 

Although the causes of Crohn’s are unknown, most sufferers react negatively to stress, smoking cigarettes, infections, and certain foods and drinks. With regard to diet, everyone is different, so it’s helpful to keep a diary of what you eat and how you feel afterward. Common dietary triggers include the following:

  • High-fiber foods 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol 
  • Spicy foods 

Some people may also react negatively to antibiotics, contraceptives, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Determining what triggers your flare-ups and decreasing the number of flare-ups reduces the risk for colon cancer as well. 

Screening for colon cancer

Even with Crohn’s disease, your risk of developing colon cancer is low. In addition, most people with Crohn’s disease have a normal life expectancy. 

However, to ensure you stay healthy, you may be recommended colonoscopies on a yearly basis if you’ve had the disease for at least 8 years. A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the anus all the way through the colon to help our specialists find and remove any abnormal tissue. 

Get help with managing your Crohn’s 

About 3% of people who’ve lived with Crohn’s for 10 years develop colon cancer. The numbers go up to 8% for people who’ve lived with Crohn's for 30 years. 

The amount of time you’re exposed to inflammation matters, as does the management of your flareups. 

If you’re living with Crohn’s, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our providers will look at your medical records, ask you questions about your challenges living with the disease, and put together a management plan to reduce your flare-ups and risk for complications.