Friday, March 13, 2009

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Colon cancer affects ~150,000 individuals every year and is equally common in men and women. The disease, however, is largely preventable with regular screening and is treatable with early detection. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings for men and women beginning at age 50. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, you may wish to discuss early screening with your physicians. In general, individuals with a family history of colon cancer begin screening ~10 years earlier than the earliest diagnosis in their family. For more information about Colon Cancer Awareness Month please visit

Colon cancer can also be hereditary in some families, although the majority of cancers are not hereditary. We recommend that individuals consider genetic counseling if they have a personal and/or family history of any of the following:

1. Colon or endometrial cancer diagnosed before the age of 50.

2. Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related cancers (e.g. colon/uterine/ovarian)

3. More than one HNPCC cancer diagnosis in a single individual (e.g. colon and uterine, synchronous/metachronous colon cancers, colon and ovarian).

4. Individuals with greater than 15 gastrointestinal polyps, multiple polyposis or greater than 5 hamartomatous polyps.

5. Even one sebaceous carcinoma or adenoma.

6. Colon or endometrial cancer that has an abnormal MSI or IHC; or

7. Known genetic mutation in the family (HNPCC, FAP, etc.).

To learn more about genetic counseling and testing please visit our program web site by clicking on the above light blue link or by visiting You may also wish to visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors website at to find a counselor closer to where you live.