American Cancer Society has lowered the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer to age 45

Colorectal Cancer and Family History


I am 47 years old. My grandmother had colorectal cancer. Is it hereditary? Could I also have colorectal cancer? Read more...

A family history of colorectal cancer puts other individuals in the family at higher risk of developing it. Although, most colon cancers occur independently, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of colorectal cancer is hereditary. Studies have shown that people with a first-degree relative, a parent, sibling, or child, with colon cancer or polyps, have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves. Generally speaking, the more members of the family affected by colorectal cancer, and the younger they were at diagnosis, the greater the chance of a family link.

Individuals at average risk for colon cancer should schedule their first colonoscopy around the age of 50. However, individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer are advised to have a baseline screening earlier.

Two types of inherited colorectal cancer

Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch Syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are the two most common inherited colorectal syndromes. These types of cancers can affect both genders and can develop at very young ages.

Lynch Syndrome

It accounts for roughly 3 to 5 percent of all colorectal cancer diagnoses and usually affects family members in two or more generations. Those families with a history of Lynch Syndrome usually have more family members develop cancer. The average age for a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer in the general population is 72. However, the average age of new diagnosis for someone with Lynch syndrome is 45 years of age.

Diagnostic criteria for Lynch Syndrome are:

  • Three or more relatives with a Lynch Syndrome-related cancer.
  • At least two generations with cancer.
  • The family history of young-onset cancer.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or FAP is another type of inherited colorectal syndrome. Affected people develop hundreds or thousands of precancerous polyps in the colon and the number of polyps increases as they start to age. The polyps begin forming in the mid-teens and people with FAP will develop colon cancer in their thirties.

Family history screening recommendations

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy outlines recommendations for screening people with a family history of colon cancer and polyps:

  1. Individuals with a family history of one or more first-degree relatives such as a sibling, parent or child with sporadic colorectal cancer, regardless of their age, should undergo colonoscopy beginning at 40 years or ten years younger than the age of the affected relative at the time of diagnosis, whichever is earlier.
  2. Individuals with a first-degree relative who is less than 60 years at the time of diagnosis of adenomatous polyps should undergo colonoscopy beginning at 40 years or ten years younger than the age of the affected relative at the time of diagnosis, whichever is earlier.
  3. In patients with a first-degree relative above 60 years old at the time of diagnosis of adenomatous polyps, the timing of screening colonoscopy should be individualized.

Get screened today. Contact Polymedco, CDP, LLC

If colon cancer runs in your family, it is important that you get yourself screened. Contact Polymedco CDP, LLC today. We are the leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) kit. Call us at 888-638-7757 or email at

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