Bowel cancer affects one in ten families. But that doesn't mean you're going to get it, if it is in your family. Rough rule of thumb; the closer any affected relatives are to you (brother, sister, mother, father, child) and the younger they are, the more you need to do something about it
v One close relative under 45 affected (brother, sister, parent, child) talk to your GP about screening possibilities
v Two or more close relatives over 45 from the same side of the family. The younger your relatives, the more need for you to discuss screening with your GP.
v Usual yardstick for screening - around 15 years before the age your youngest close relative developed the disease
v If you have a less strong family history, say one grandparent who died in their 60s or 70s, you have very little lifetime increased risk and screening is no more appropriate for you than patients with no family history at all
Five percent of families have a gene called FAP or HNPCC which can seriously predispose them to bowel cancer
FAP families - where several members have developed lots of polyps in the bowel, can look for more information on www.polyposisregistry.org.uk
Families with strong histories but without lots of polyps should find out if they have the HNPCC or Lynch gene – ask your GP where to find the nearest genetic clinic