Is Colon Cancer Hereditary?

Is colon cancer hereditary? The short answer is: it can be. Not all colon cancers are hereditary, but about 5-6% can be caused by certain conditions and inherited gene mutations. If you have any other risk factors for colon cancer, you would be wise to determine if you might be more at risk and if this question applies to you. 

Doctor holding figure of colon.

Well-Known Risk Factors For Developing Colon Cancer

There are a number of risk factors that give you a heads up about your chances of getting colon cancer. These are things different from heredity. Getting older, your gender, race, and a family history are all risk factors.

Risk factors can influence development of a cancer, but most don’t actually cause it. Some people who have several risk factors never develop cancer, yet others with no known risk factors do. It is recommended that everyone discuss their known risk factors with Southwest Diagnostic Center For Molecular Imaging to help develop a plan regarding screenings.

Inherited Gene Mutations vs Acquired Gene Mutations

Gene mutations cause cancers to develop. Most gene mutations leading to cancer are acquired during a lifetime rather than being inherited. Furthermore, they are not passed on to children. No one is quite sure of the exact reasons, but the above risk factors probably play a part.

Other DNA mutations occur in all cells in a body and can be passed on in families. These are inherited mutations. A small portion of cancers are caused by inherited mutations and usually occur due to one of ten syndromes. For example, about 3% of colorectal cancer are caused by one such syndrome, Lynch Syndrome.

Signs of inherited colon cancer include: 

  • Occurring at an early age
  • The cancer grows aggressively
  • Development in multiple areas of the colon
  • It is associated with other cancers

Should You Get Genetic Testing?

If you, or someone in your family, had colon cancer under the age of 50, it’s possible it could be inherited. This can put you and all your family members at a higher risk. Getting tested can tell if you have any of the 10 mutations or disorders.

Finding out the answer will direct your future screenings and how often you will need them. Talking with a genetic counselor is the first step. 

If you do find out you have the inherited gene, look for an imaging center in Dallas, TX that handles such cases.

Contact Southwest Diagnostic Center For Molecular Imaging at (214) 345-8300 if you suspect you have an inherited gene mutation or if you want to be screened for colon cancer.