Genetics

If a close family member has had colorectal cancer, your risk of developing the disease increases as much as four-fold

  • Department of:
  • Adena Regional Medical Center

To learn more about the Adena Cancer Care Center or to request an appointment, please call 740-542-3030.

If a first-degree family member is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you are two to three times as likely to develop it than someone without that family link.

People with more than one close family member with colon cancer face a bigger risk — they are nearly four times as likely to develop colon cancer than others. And the younger the age of your relative at diagnosis, the higher your risk, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Ethnicity also plays a role. African Americans have the highest rates of colorectal cancer among all racial groups in the U.S.

All adults 50 and older should get regular colorectal cancer screenings, but adults with a family history may need earlier or more frequent screenings and should talk with their doctor. Colonoscopy is considered the best screening, especially for people with known risk factors including a family history.

Are you a candidate for genetic testing?

If you are concerned about your family history, genetic testing is an option. More than a dozen genes are associated with colorectal cancer. These genes fall into three classes — tumor suppressor genes, oncogenes and DNA repair genes.

When these genes mutate, they can place a person at high risk for developing colorectal cancer. When a parent carries this genetic mutation, his or her child will have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the predisposition, NCI reports.

Adena offers testing to determine if you have a gene mutation that could heighten your colon cancer risk. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may wish to consider testing.

  1. Have one or more of your first-degree relatives been diagnosed with colorectal cancer?
  2. Was a relative diagnosed before age 45?
  3. Has a family member developed colorectal adenoma (a benign tumor or polyp)?

Considering your options

Genetic testing is fast and painless. The specialists at Adena will take a blood sample or use a cotton swab to collect cells from the inside of your mouth.

Then, based on the results, you may choose to take precautions such as scheduling regular exams or trying chemoprevention, the use of drugs or supplements to curb risk.

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