By The Colon Cancer Alliance
Did your grandparents have colon cancer? Have any of your relatives ever had polyps? Knowing the answers to questions like these could tell you if you are at an increased risk for colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in the U.S. Take the time to learn your health history. You may need to tell your doctor to “Screen my colon!” earlier than you thought.
You and your family members are at a greater risk of developing colon cancer if you have a family history of:
- Colon or rectal cancer
- Cancer or rectal polyps
- Stomach or bowel problems
Although everyone should be tested for colon cancer beginning at age 50, if you have a family history of colon cancer, you and your close family members (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) should begin getting regular screenings for colon cancer even earlier to catch the disease in its early stages, when it is most easily treatable. Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, often does not have symptoms. If you wait for symptoms to occur before getting screened, this cancer may be tougher to treat. Screening tests help your doctor find and remove polyps to prevent colon cancer before these polyps develop into cancer. Read more about who should be tested and when.
As each generation ages, important information about your family health history can be forgotten or lost. Start a dialogue with your family today. Through the Colon Cancer Alliance website, you can download a free Family Health Tree to complete with your family. Don’t wait. Get the conversation started!