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hereditary colorectal cancer

How to Know if Your Colorectal Cancer is Hereditary

Andy Guinigundo, MSN, APRN, Advanced Practice Provider and Cancer Genetic Specialist at OHC, Blogs, 0 comments
March 27, 2019

 

Andy Guinigundo OHC
Andy Guinigundo, MSN, APRN, Advanced Practice Provider and Cancer Genetic Specialist at OHC

Receiving a diagnosis of colorectal cancer is life altering and can be scary. But, knowledge is empowering. That’s why OHC provides education to help patients stay focused on their number one job of getting well. In recognition of colorectal cancer month, OHC is highlighting education on the role your heredity can play in predisposing you to the disease. Some people are genetically predisposed to colorectal cancer due to their DNA, and OHC is here to help you understand why that is and what you can do to reduce your risk in spite of your genes.


What makes cancer hereditary?

Colorectal cancer is considered hereditary or inherited when several generations of a family have colorectal cancer. The two most common inherited colorectal cancer syndromes are hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), sometimes called Lynch Syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). The children of people who carry these genes have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease-causing gene.

Colorectal cancer is considered hereditary or inherited when several generations of a family have colorectal cancer. The two most common inherited colorectal cancer syndromes are hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), sometimes called Lynch Syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). The children of people who carry these genes have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease-causing gene.

OHC cancer genetic specialists can help determine if you have a hereditary or genetic risk for colorectal cancer. They complete a risk assessment based on your personal and medical history, cancer screening history, and your family history of cancer. After a full analysis, they will discuss appropriate genetic testing options based on your history and review benefits and limitations of genetic testing. An evaluation can still be performed even if you aren’t certain of the history of cancer in your family. And you don’t have to be an OHC patient to request a consultation.


Reducing your risk.

Once test results are available, OHC specialists discuss the findings with the individual. People who test positive for a gene mutation are presented with options for a proactive, personalized care plan that could include surveillance, lifestyle modifications, risk-reduction medications, or preventative surgery. If a person tests positive for HNPCC, we may recommend a change in their diet along with annual colonoscopies starting as early as age 20-25 years old instead of the recommended age of 45-50. If they test positive for FAP, we may discuss surgery to remove the colon. Our goal is to determine if there is a genetic mutation and, if there is, identify actions to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

Our genetic specialists also discuss the impact of the results on family members. For example, not everyone who inherits a HNPCC gene will develop colorectal cancer, but the risk is as high as 80%. People with HNPCC also have a higher risk of developing other cancers, such as kidney/renal, ovarian, uterine, small intestine, and stomach cancer.

Whether or not you’re genetically disposed to colorectal cancer, everyone can reduce their risk by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting routine screenings, especially since the survival rate can be as high as 90% when it’s diagnosed early. If you are diagnosed with colon, rectal or anal cancer, the doctors at OHC will offer you the newest treatments available along with support services.

For detailed information about colorectal cancer, its risks, symptoms and treatments, please visit this page on colorectal cancer. If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our providers or for a second opinion, please visit our request an appointment page.   

Sources: National Cancer Institute, WebMD

 
 

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