Who should consider genetic counseling and testing for colon cancer?

Carrie Prochniak
Clinical Genetics

The first step is always to learn more about your family history. If anyone in your family fits these scenarios, genetic counseling may be of use:

  1. Colon cancer under age 50
  2. Two or more colon cancers in the same person
  3. Personal history of multiple colon polyps
  4. A pattern of cancers seems to run in your family, such as uterine, colon, ovarian, stomach, pancreatic, kidney or small bowel cancer.

Even if your family does not fit in the scenarios above, and you are worried about your risk for colon cancer, genetic counseling may be useful to help you figure out what your actual risk is. 

Sometimes those who develop colon cancer at an early age will have genetic testing done to look for certain DNA mutations that predisposed them to developing colon cancer. Some of these mutations have a high likelihood of being shared among family members. If one of these mutations is found, family members may benefit from genetic counseling and testing, or they may simply opt to undergo earlier or more frequent colon cancer screening, depending on the mutation in question.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.