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Hereditary Diseases Can Increase Risk of Developing Colon and Rectal Cancer

There many factors which can increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime, ranging from environmental factors, which can sometimes be modified, to risk factors which can’t be modified or avoided.
Among the many risk factors linked to colon and rectal cancer that can't be avoided, there are certain diseases which can increase one's risk greatly. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 5 to 10 percent of all colon and rectal cancers are caused by these pre-existing diseases and inherited gene changes.

Listed below are some of the most prevalent diseases which have been found to contribute to increased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

This disease is caused by mutations in the APC gene (adenomatous polyposis coli), which is a hereditary gene passed down from one’s parents. This disease accounts for around 1 percent of all colorectal cancer incidences. Due to this disease, vast amounts of polyps begin to develop inside the colon as early as age 20, and those polyps have the potential to become malignant over time. If preventive treatment isn’t undertaken by those with FAP, it’s extremely likely that he or she will develop colorectal cancer by the age of 40.

Lynch Syndrome

This syndrome, also referred to as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), is estimated to be the cause of 3 to 5 percent of all colorectal cancers. It is typically caused by mutations to genes which are designated for repairing damage to DNA. Due to this disease, polyp development in the colon can occur, which can become cancerous. The American Cancer Society estimates that for people living with Lynch Syndrome, the lifetime risk of developing colon and rectal cancer is about 80 percent.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

This disease, not to be confused with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), has been linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. Conditions which fall under this classification include Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Due to the inflamed condition the colon reaches under this disease, dysplasia can often develop, which is where cells in the colon begin to look abnormal through a microscope. Although not cancerous initially, eventually, these abnormal cells can reach a malignant state.

Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS)

Although rare, this disease can put young people at a significantly higher risk of developing colon and rectal cancer. People with this disease typically have freckles located around the mouth, hands, and feet. More importantly, those with PJS often develop polyps in their digestive tracts.

Because many of these diseases are hereditary, the polyps can begin to form at relatively young ages. Typically, screening for colorectal cancer isn’t recommended for those at average risk until age 50. This is why it is vital for families to have open dialogues about any personal history of any of these diseases. Unless younger people with these diseases are aware of their increased risk, early detection of malignancies through screenings is less likely, and late discovery is all the more likely should cancer develop.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer and feel it went undetected by your medical professional in Georgia, please request a copy of our free book, I Have Cancer...Should It Have Been Caught Earlier?, or contact an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice and colorectal cancer lawyer at the Dover Law Firm at 770-518-1133 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.