Colon Cancer Screening - Testing

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

Do you participate in colon cancer screening? What kinds of tests do you have?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the white square:

Who should consider genetic counseling and testing?

Genetic counseling followed by genetic testing should be considered for individuals as well as their family members when there are:

  • Individuals in the family with early onset of colon cancer, before age 50
  • Individuals in the family with numerous colon polyps
  • Families in which multiple members have colon cancer
  • Families with members with numerous colon polyps
  • Families with members having colon cancers at young ages
  • Families with members having certain non-colon cancers such as cancers of the uterus, thyroid, ureters, ovaries, small intestine, etc.

Genetic counseling both obtains the details of a patient's history, and helps them to understand what testing may be recommended and what the results could mean. Genentic testing is voluntary and the results cannot be used today to disqualify you from obtaining health insurance. Life insurance may be denied on the basis of such testing presently. Other concerns will be discussed as well.

Genetic testing without prior counseling is discouraged because of the extensive family education that is involved and the complicated nature of interpreting the test results.

Why is genetic counseling and testing important in hereditary colon cancer syndromes?

Patients who have hereditary colon cancer syndromes usually have no symptoms and are unaware that they have colon polyps or early colon cancers. They usually will develop colon cancers early in life (often before ages 40-50). Therefore, to prevent colon cancers in patients with hereditary colon cancer syndromes, colon screening must begin early. For example, patients with FAP should have annual flexible sigmoidoscopies starting at age 12, patients with AFAP should have annual colonoscopies starting at age 25, and patients with HNPCC should have colonoscopies beginning at age 25 (or 10 years younger than the earliest colon cancer diagnosed in the family, whichever is earlier). The current screening recommendations for the general population (fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy beginning at ages 40-50) are inadequate for most patients with hereditary colon cancer syndromes.

Genetic counseling and testing are important to identify patients and family members with hereditary colon cancer syndromes so that screening with flexible sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies can begin early and, if necessary, the colon can be removed surgically to prevent colon cancer. Moreover, depending on which hereditary colon cancer syndrome is present, early screening for other types of cancer such as ovarian, uterine, stomach, ureter, and thyroid may be appropriate.

How is genetic testing conducted?

Genetic testing should be done following genetic counseling, so that family members understand fully the advantages and limitations of genetic testing as well as how the tests should be interpreted.

Within the family, the first person to undergo genetic testing usually is the person who clearly has the disease (e.g., with numerous colon polyps with or without colon cancer). If genetic testing of this family member reveals a mutation responsible for a hereditary colon cancer syndrome, then other family members can be tested for the same mutation. Those family members who do not carry the mutation can be assured that they have not inherited the syndrome, whereas those who have the mutation should begin early screening for colon and other cancers. Depending on which syndrome is present and the age of the patient, removal of the colon may be recommended.

Unfortunately, genetic testing that shows no known cancer syndrome does not necessarily mean that there is no cancer syndrome. Our current knowledge about colon cancer syndromes is imperfect and our ability to recognize them is incomplete, and there may be unrecognized syndromes that cannot yet be detected. Even if no cancer syndrome is identified by genetic testing, first-degree relatives of someone with colon cancer are still considered at increased risk for developing colon cancer themselves and should undergo early screening as directed by their physicians.

Return to Colon Cancer Screening

See what others are saying

Comment from: puffsjackie, 45-54 Female Published: November 22

Yes, I started at age 36 because my mother was diagnosed at 58, and died at age 62. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer, but it metastasized to her liver. I have had a total of 3 colonoscopies. During two of them, polyps were found and removed. I currently have colonoscopies every five years, and will continue in an effort to prevent cancer.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Robin, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

Yes, I have had 3 colonoscopies. My father died at 52. I go every 3 years and have had polyps removed.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors