I've Tested Positive, Now What?
Colorectal cancer risk management
Every person is at risk for colorectal cancer and the risk increases with age. A person in the general population has about a 4 percent lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. This means that 1 out of every 25 people will get colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
Colorectal cancer screening and risk reduction
There are different options for managing colorectal cancer risk, including:
Your risk management plan will depend on several factors, including:
- your age
- your gender
- the presence of an inherited gene mutation
- your personal and family history of cancer
- other risk factors
- personal preferences
There are different national expert guidelines for colorectal cancer risk management, which are based on your level of risk. Speak with your healthcare provider to decide on a risk management plan and schedule that is right for you.
Genes linked to colorectal cancer risk
Inherited mutations in the following genes have been linked to an increased risk for colorectal cancer, (click on the gene to learn more about the colorectal cancer risk associated for each):
The most common inherited gene mutations associated with hereditary colorectal cancer are the genes associated with Lynch syndrome:
Other genes associated with increased colorectal cancer risk include:
There are other inherited mutations that increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Most of these are rare.
Other factors linked to colorectal cancer risk
Factors such as diet, weight, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption can affect colorectal cancer risk in the general population and in people at high risk for cancer. More research is needed to understand how much these factors influence risk in people with inherited mutations.
Gastroenterologists are experts specialize in the gastrointestinal system. They also perform screening for gastrointestinal cancers, including stomach, small intestine, large intestine, colon and pancreas. Not all gastroenterologists are experts in screening for cancers in high-risk people. If you already have a gastroenterologist, ask how many patients with your mutation they care for, and what screening guidelines they follow.
- The American College of Gastroenterology has a search tool to help you find a gastroenterologist by specialty.
- The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers deliver cutting-edge cancer care to patients in communities across the United States. Most centers have specialized screening and prevention centers for high risk people. Find a center near you and learn about its specific research capabilities, programs, and initiatives.
- Register for the FORCE Message Boards to get referrals from other members. Once you register, you can post on the Find a Specialist board to connect with other people who share your situation.