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Family Risk


The best way to find out about the effect of 'family risk' is to see a genetics counsellor – your GP should know how to access the nearest genetic clinic in your area if your doctor thinks your family might be at risk

However there are some simple rules which may reassure you. In bowel cancer your lifetime risk of having bowel cancer is not greatly affected unless a 'first degree' blood relative: mother, father, brother, sister or child has had bowel cancer below the age of 45years. This will double your life time risk of having bowel cancer but will still mean you have an over 90% chance of not getting it

This means if you have a grandparent or aunt, uncle or cousin with bowel cancer, particularly if they were over 60 years of age, your risk of having bowel cancer will be no greater than people without a family history. The NHS usually advise people to have 'screening' (usually by colonoscopy) if they have a first degree relative who developed bowel cancer when they were aged 45 years or below and that they should then start having screening when they are 5years younger than the age at which the relative presented with bowel cancer. For example if the relative was 40 years old when diagnosed with bowel cancer, the first degree relative should start having screening when they are 35years old

If two or more older blood relatives have developed bowel cancer and perhaps there are other cancers in your family, you may also be eligible for screening

If you very concerned that you might be at increased family risk, see your GP and ask to be referred for advice

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