Colon Cancer, Family History, Lynch Syndrome, and FAP
Knowing your family’s health history is important because certain risk factors such as family history makes you a candidate for early screening. While most individuals should schedule their first colonoscopy around the age of 50, individuals with a family history or concerning symptoms should be screened earlier. If you have a family history, ask your doctor at what age you should be screened.
The two most common inherited colorectal syndromes are Lynch Syndrome and FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis). They affect both genders and can develop at very young ages.
The more common type of inherited colon cancer is Lynch Syndrome. Lynch Syndrome accounts for roughly 3-5% of all colon cancer diagnoses and usually affects family members in two or more generations. Families with a history of Lynch Syndrome usually have more family members develop colon cancer than typically expected.
While the average age for a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer in the general population is 72, the average age of new diagnosis for someone with Lynch syndrome is only 45 years of age.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
Another rare, but serious, genetic colon disease is FAP. People affected by this genetic condition develop hundreds or thousands of precancerous polyps in the colon, and the number of polyps increases with age. Unless the colon is removed, polyps begin forming in the mid-teens and people with FAP will develop colon cancer in their thirties.
The average age that a person affected by classic FAP will develop colon cancer is 39 years of age.