Bowel cancer, also called colon and rectal cancer, may affect several generations of a family. This happens because of gene mutations (where genes change or develop faults).

A gene is a part of our DNA that holds a code or set of instructions for making proteins that are important for our body’s health. Any genetic changes may be inherited, which means they can be passed from parent to child. Inherited bowel cancer is a rare disorder

How do I know if I am at risk?

If you have one of the three key bowel cancer symptoms, rectal bleeding, a change in your bowel habits or abdominal pain click on the ‘haveigotbowelcancer’ link below. As these symptoms are caused by many other simple, self limiting bowel conditions very few people will have a serious problem such as cancer. However the link below will help you decide whether you should see a doctor and how to treat your symptoms.

The most important factor determining your long-term risk of developing bowel cancer is a family history. The more family members that have the disease, the greater the risk. The risk is also greater if a close relative such as a parent, brother or sister has colon or rectal cancer, and particularly if a close relative has the disease at a young age (under 45 years of age). If you have a family history of bowel cancer, you will be referred to a specialist for gene testing to find out whether you carry a genetic change for an inherited bowel cancer.

Is there more than one type?

Yes, There are numerous types of inherited bowel cancer. The two most understood inherited bowel cancers are hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). They can affect both men and women. Children of the parents who carry these genetic changes have a 50% (1 in 2) chance of inheriting bowel cancer. These two types of inherited cancers account for only a small number (5% or 1 in 20) of all bowel cancers.