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What role do genetics play in colon cancer?

Daniel Labow, MD
Surgical Oncology

Family history is a major risk factor in developing colony cancer. In this video, Daniel Labow, MD, an oncology surgeon at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, discusses the role genetics play in detecting and treating colon cancer.

The most common pushback I get from patients who have never gotten a colonoscopy is that they don't have any symptoms or family history of the disease. Of the patients who are diagnosed with colon cancer, only 25 percent of them have a family history. The remaining 75 percent do not. Patients who have inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, are also at increased risk for cancer.

In addition, a genetic role exists in patients who get a lot of polyps, which is a premalignant condition. One hundred percent of patient with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) develop colon cancer eventually. There is also a genetic predisposition to colon cancer for those with Lynch Syndrome. These patients develop colon cancer at a much earlier age. So, genetics does play a role, but not as much as most people think. 

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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.