Mom with adult daughters to  show that family history affects colon cancer risk


What do your genes say about your risk of colon cancer?

You've heard it before—start colon cancer screening when you turn 50. But if colon cancer runs in your family, it may indicate it's better to be screened earlier and more often. Sometimes this is due to an inherited risk that can be found by genetic testing but not always.  

How often does a genetic test help?

About 10 percent of colon cancer is due to an inherited risk—that is a risk that may run in your family. Some people who have a family history of colon cancer need to start colon screening at a young age and have screening often—sometimes once per year. A family history of colon cancer may also indicate increased risks for additional cancers—even if they are not in your family. Knowing this helps us to assess your risk for all related cancers and make a plan to keep you healthy.  

Do you need genetic testing? 

Knowing your family history can help us understand your risk of cancer and the need for early screening. If you say yes to any of the following, ask your doctor about seeing a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor can help clarify your risks for colon cancer, what you should be doing for screening and prevention and help you decide if genetic testing is right for you.  

Do you or a close relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) have any of these conditions? 

  • colon, rectal or uterine cancer before age 50 (Y/N)
  • colon, rectal or uterine cancer at any age who also has any of the following cancers: cancer of the uterus, the ovary, stomach, small intestine, urinary tract (kidney, ureter, bladder), bile ducts, pancreas or brain (Y/N)
  • at least 10 pre-cancerous polyps (Y/N)
  • three or more relatives on the same side of the family (parent, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece/nephew or grandparent) with a history of any of the following: colon, rectal, uterine, ovarian, stomach, small intestine, urinary tract, bile duct, pancreas or brain cancer at any age  (Y/N)

Knowledge is power—take charge of your health and let Allina Health help empower you.


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