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Colon Cancer

Family Member Genetic Testing and Me

03/30/2011

Question:

If someone in my family has genetic testing and is “at high risk” for colon cancer do I really need testing as well?

Answer:

Because of the way hereditary cancer susceptibility is usually inherited, each sibling and child of a person with hereditary colon cancer susceptibility has a 50% chance to inherit the susceptibility. The distance of the genetic relationship between you and the family member who had testing will determine your chance to have also inherited a high risk for colon cancer. Genetic testing will be useful in determining whether you have inherited the genetic marker (also known as a “mutation”) and therefore are also at high risk to develop cancer, or whether you did not inherit the marker and are at approximately population risk for cancer. This will also determine whether you need to be screened with frequent colonoscopies and possibly upper endoscopies, or whether you can use population screening guidelines.

For more information:

Go to the Colon Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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