Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, and about 30% of patients have a family history of the disease.1 Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Tumors in these areas can be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, but they present with similar symptoms so they are commonly grouped together and called colorectal cancer.
Risk factors and prevention
There are risk factors for colorectal cancer that you can avoid, such as smoking, being overweight or obese, a sedentary lifestyle–not being active or exercising–drinking alcohol, and eating processed meat and red meats that are cooked at high temperatures (charred).
Advancing age, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps or colorectal cancer, a family history of the disease, and having an inherited syndrome are risk factors that you cannot change. About five percent of patients with colorectal cancer have inherited the syndrome (gene changes that are passed on from a parent).2 The most common inherited syndrome linked with colorectal cancers are Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC). Lynch Syndrome accounts for about 2-4% of all colorectal cancers.2 The cancers linked to this syndrome tend to develop in young patients, and the lifetime risk may be as high as 80%, but this depends on which gene is affected. Another common inherited syndrome is familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and there are other rarer syndromes that can increase colorectal cancer risk, too.2
Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer
Regular screening for colorectal cancer is the most effective way to detect the disease early. With screening, doctors can find polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer. For any type of cancer, the chances of surviving from the disease increase when found early, before other organs are infected.
There are several tests that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer, such as stool-based tests, visual (structural) exams that use scopes (a tube-like instrument with light and a tiny video camera on the end), and x-rays.
The American Cancer Society has guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. To know more about the guidelines, please visit https://www.cancer.org
What Testing Would my Healthcare Provider Order?
GenPath’s proprietary OnkoSightTM test analyzes seven genes that are most important in colorectal cancer diagnoses. By focusing in on these genes, GenPath can provide the information needed most to determine the most appropriate therapeutic choice.
GenPath also offers hereditary cancer testing for colorectal cancer. For more on hereditary cancer testing, please click HERE.
- American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Accessed May 21, 2019.
- American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Accessed May 21, 2019.