Colorectal cancer can be hereditary. Twenty-five percent of us have an immediate family member with a history of colon cancer. This may double our risk of colon cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or have been diagnosed yourself, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling and possible testing. This testing is a safe, simple way to discover if you or your family is at risk for certain cancers.
With that knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to plan for your future. And you won’t have to do this alone. At Mercy, specially-trained genetic counselors help you throughout the process, from deciding if testing is right for you to understanding your results and treatment options.
A number of genetic tests are available to determine whether you have a genetic change (mutation) that predisposes you to colorectal cancer. These include tests for MLH1, MSH2, APC, MSH6, PMS2, and MUTYH mutations. Genetic counselors and physicians can help you understand your individual cancer risk and which type of genetic tests, if any, may be useful for you or your family members.
If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, we encourage you to speak to a genetic counselor to help you understand and manage your cancer risk, with or without the use of genetic tests.
For most genetic tests, either a saliva sample or blood sample is collected. Results are generally available in two to four weeks. If your result is positive for a mutation, we’ll ask you to come back to our office to discuss cancer surveillance strategies for you, and possibly recommend testing for other family members.
Most insurance companies will cover the cost of genetic testing if you meet the test criteria. If you don’t have insurance coverage, programs are available to help.
Mercy offers complete, compassionate care for people concerned about cancer. A hereditary risk assessment is performed at the cancer center by our expert team of doctors. In addition, for those patients found to have a genetic predisposition, Mercy offers counseling and a long-term care strategy that allows for better outcomes. Contact a nearby location to see how Mercy can help you take the next step.