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What You Need To Know About Your Family History

Published on 15 March 2016 back to previous

Brent Hafen, Oncology Genetic Counseling Services Director, discussed what you need to know about your family history and colorectal caner. For individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer, family health history information can be lifesaving. He explained that approximately 1 out of every 25 people (men and women) will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during their lifetime. Approximately 1 out of every 5 people diagnosed with colon cancer has a family member with colon cancer.

What should to look for in your family history:
  • Multiple affected family members in several generations of the family (siblings with cancer; grandparent, parent and children with cancer, etc)
  • Family members who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer before the age of 50
  • Multiple types of cancer in the family. In addition to colorectal cancer, Lynch syndrome is associated with uterine and ovarian cancers. 
  • Family members with many colon polyps.  FAP is associated with 10 colon polyps up to hundreds of colon polyps.
Once you have collected information on your family members, take time to make an appointment with your doctor or a genetic counselor to review the information, discuss your personal risk for colorectal cancer, and if needed, schedule appropriate screening tests.
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