What You Need to Know About Hereditary Colon Cancer


Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, one in 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetime and it affects women and men in equal numbers.

What is hereditary colon cancer?

Hereditary colon cancer develops as a result of inherited genetic mutations.  Lynch syndrome is the most common type of hereditary colon cancer.

  • It is estimated that 1 in 300 people may have Lynch syndrome and their lifetime risk of colon cancer is substantially higher than the general population.
  • Women with Lynch syndrome have a 50 percent or higher lifetime risk of uterine cancer and a six to eight percent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Lynch syndrome also puts people at higher risk of cancer of the liver, pancreas, skin, stomach and urinary tract.

Risk factors for hereditary colon cancer may include: a personal diagnosis or family history of colon or endometrial cancer, particularly when diagnosed at a young age. The PREMM5® model is an easy way to assess for the possibility of Lynch syndrome; genetic evaluation is recommended for a score ≥2.5% score.

What is genetic testing and how can you get tested?

If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, your DNA can be tested to determine if the cancer is caused by a hereditary genetic mutation.  The leading genetic test is called myRisk® Hereditary Cancer, which analyzes 35 cancer-causing genes, and provides the information in an easy-to-understand report.

If you are found to have an inherited mutation, your healthcare provider will discuss management options aimed at improving your clinical outcome.

Getting Started Is Easy

If you have colon cancer or have a family history of colon cancer, you may qualify for genetic testing based on medical guidelines.  The easiest way to get started is to complete the information in the PREMM5® questionnaire http://premm.dfci.harvard.edu/, which was developed by researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  If your PREMM5® score is ≥2.5%, you may qualify for testing and should ask your doctor for Myriad Genetics’ myRisk Hereditary Cancer test.

Good luck and be well.

Take the PREMM5® Questionnaire