What is it?

Around 10 to 15% of all people with colorectal cancer have a family history. Family history means the person with cancer has inherited a gene mutation from a blood relative. A mutation is a change or fault in the DNA of a gene.

There are different types of colorectal cancer syndromes. Each type affects different genes and risks. Some mutations can increase risk of other types of cancers, including urinary tract, small bowel and stomach.

Some gene mutations are autosomal dominant, which means children have a one in two chance of inheriting the faulty gene. Your GP can talk to you about genetic testing and how to prevent bowel cancer. 

What will my GP do now?

Your GP may talk to you about your family link and gene testing. Your GP may refer you to a cancer service for more advice if:

  • You have had cancer
  • Someone in your family has had cancer
  • Someone in your family has a rare gene mutation

Your GP may also discuss cancer screening and known ways to help prevent cancer.

Moving every day, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and quitting smoking all make a difference.

What will my GP do in the future?

Your GP may see you each year to check your health and see if there are any changes to your risk factors. Your GP may also discuss screening each year. If someone in your family gets cancer, you may think about gene testing. You can discuss gene testing at any time, and you can change your mind about testing when you want.

What can I do?

If you are feeling worried about your cancer risk, talk to your GP. Your GP may refer you to a specialist who can discuss the pros and cons of gene testing. A genetic counsellor can also help you decide if testing is right for you. If testing shows you have an increased risk, your GP will help you learn how to reduce your risk.