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Cancer Genetics

Gene For Colon Cancer

06/07/2010

Question:

I am 55 and have FAP (I knew this) but ignored it. I have been having GI constipation, diarehhea, and bleeding for 1 month and the sleep gene studies say I have FAP. I knew that I was supposed to have cololonscopies starting at 40, but skipped them. Since I have FAP, is it too late to self-schedule a colonoscopy? I`m 15 years late. It`s my fault, but I didn`t have symptoms until a month ago. I feel like an idiot for not following the instructions of my docs. Since I`m 15 years late getting screened for the FAP is there a chance that I "dodged the bullet" for colon cancer? I can live with the symptoms and the bleeding is distressing but minor. I tried to call a few GI docs and they thought I was joking about the FAP gene.

Answer:

It’s never too late to schedule a colonoscopy, and you should do this right away. Your symptoms would be concerning in anyone, and should prompt an evaluation. I’m sorry that the doctors you have talked with have not taken you seriously, but you should still have a colonoscopy. Keep trying until you find someone who can get you in quickly. If you have a primary care physician, he or she can probably help make this happen faster. Some centers require a referral from a primary care physician while others accept referrals from patients directly.

Living with the symptoms is not reasonable under the circumstances. If you have FAP, you should start having colonoscopies every year; once you have the colonoscopy your gastroenterologist will help you continue to get the necessary screening.

If you have children or brothers and sisters they should also be getting yearly screening, especially if they have not had testing to determine whether they have inherited FAP as well. Usually colon cancer screening starts earlier than age 40 for people with FAP, so make sure they are all aware that this is in the family and that they have yearly colonoscopies.

 

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Response by:

Duane D Culler, PhD, MS Duane D Culler, PhD, MS
Clinical Instructor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University