Colon Cancer: A Family Affair?

Did you know that colon cancer can run in families? When brothers Jerry, John, and Ted learned of their 80-year-old father’s colon cancer diagnosis in August of 2013, they decided to get screened on the same day, back-to-back. All three scans came back clear! 

It’s a good thing they got checked, because as many as 1 in 5 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have had it. 

People who have had a parent, sibling, or child diagnosed with colon cancer are at increased risk, and it increases more if that relative was diagnosed when they were younger than 45, or if there is more extensive family history.

Another link is having family members who have had adenomatous polyps, or the kind that can become cancerous.

If you have a family history of adenomatous polyps or colon cancer, talk with your doctor about screening before the typically recommended age of 50. 

In addition, about 5-10% of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene mutations that can cause family cancer syndromes and lead to them getting the disease. The most common inherited syndromes are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome.

Mikala Harden