On average, 1 in 20 people will develop colon cancer. Colon cancer can occur at any age but 90% of colon cancer is discovered in people age 50 and older. Starting at age 50, men and women should have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer and keep an eye on their abdominal health. However, approximately 1 in every 3 Americans are not up-to-date on their screening even though when caught early, colon cancer is 90% preventable.
If you have a family history of colon cancer, you and your child may need to have a colonoscopy before age 50. People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) with colon cancer have 2-3 times the risk of developing colon cancer.
The two most common inherited colon cancer syndromes are Lynch Syndrome (more formally known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, HNPCC) and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). Lynch Syndrome and FAP affect both males and females and can develop at a young age.
Lynch Syndrome accounts for roughly 3-5% of all colon cancer diagnoses. Lynch Syndrome usually affects family members in two or more generations. Families with a history of Lynch Syndrome usually have more family members develop colon cancer than typically expected. Individuals who have Lynch Syndrome are more prone to developing other cancers including uterine, stomach, breast, ovarian, small bowel, pancreatic, prostate, urinary tract, liver, kidney and bile duct cancers. The first screening colonoscopy should be performed between 20-25 years of age.
If you have a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with Lynch syndrome, there is a 50% chance that you have it, too. Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition. If a parent has Lynch syndrome, then there is a 50% chance of passing it on to each child. Genetic testing for Lynch Syndrome is available. If you have a first-degree relative with Lynch syndrome, you may wish to undergo genetic testing to determine whether you have inherited the condition. Children of parents who have been identified to have a genetic mutation that causes Lynch Syndrome should also be tested to see if they have inherited the genetic mutation.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
FAP accounts for less than 1% of all colon cancer diagnoses. FAP is a rare but serious genetic condition that causes hundreds to thousands of precancerous polyps to develop in the colon and the number of polyps continues to increase with age. If FAP is not recognized and treated, there is almost a 100% chance that it will develop into colon cancer. FAP can be passed from generation to generation in a family. Genetic testing for FAP is available. Parents who have been identified to have the genetic mutation for FAP have a 50% chance of passing it on to each child. Therefore, children of parents who have been identified to have the genetic mutation for FAP should be tested to see if they have inherited the genetic mutation. The first screening colonoscopy should be performed between 10-12 years of age.
If you have a family history of colon cancer then be sure to inform your doctor and your child’s doctor. Your doctor will help you better understand when you and your child should have their first colonoscopy.
There are currently more than 1 million colon cancer survivors in the United States. Every fall the Dallas/Ft. Worth Undy Run/Walk takes place to help raise awareness about Colon Cancer. You can find more information here.
If your child shows symptoms of abdominal pain or if you would like more information about gastrointestinal (GI) digestive disorders that could predispose your child to colon cancer, please contact Dr. Mona Dave’s Plano Office or Southlake Office.