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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is bowel cancer hereditary?

    My father in law passed away from bowel cancer. Is it a hereditary condition?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Hi Beverly,



    Thanks very much for your post and question.



    Our nurse advisor will be in touch shortly with a response.



    In the meantime, there is quite a bit of information available on our website that you might like to have a look through, in particular the Risk Factors: Family History web page.



    Kind Regards,



    The team at Bowel Cancer Australia



    Please Note: Bowel Cancer Australia's Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory services are subject to the following disclaimer.

  • Beverly Solsky

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Is the Risk Factors: Family History document on the Healthshare site, I couldnt find it?

    Beverly

  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Hi Beverly,



    The Risk Factors: Family History information is actually a webpage on the Bowel Cancer Australia website.



    There is a section on family history in the Bowel Cancer Screening Pathway document, which is in the Healthshare bowel cancer library, but the more detailed information about family history is available on the Bowel Cancer Australia website at http://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142&Itemid=291.



    Hope that helps and wishing you a lovely weekend.



    Kind Regards,



    The team at Bowel Cancer Australia



    Please Note: Bowel Cancer Australia's Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory services are subject to the following disclaimer.

  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Hi Beverly,



    Thank you very much for your question about whether bowel cancer is a hereditary condition.



    Based on current trends, 1 in 12 Australians will develop bowel cancer before age 85. Around 75% of people who develop bowel cancer have no family history of the disease. However, having relatives, especially first degree relatives such as parents, brothers, sisters or children with bowel cancer significantly increases your risk of developing the disease.



    This risk is increased even further in people with a history of bowel cancer in: one or more first degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) younger than age 55, or two or more first degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) at any age.



    For example, if either of your parents are diagnosed with bowel cancer before age 55, you have a 3-6 fold increase in the risk of developing the disease. If two of your close relatives are diagnosed with bowel cancer (at any age), your risk increases by a similar amount.



    Your risk of developing bowel cancer doubles if you have one close relative who is diagnosed with the disease aged 60 or 70.



    We therefore advise that anyone with a family history of bowel cancer have regular checkups and consult their doctor.



    As mentioned in the earlier posts - further details can be found on the Risk Factors page on our website at http://ow.ly/5zk7


    Hope that helps and wishing you a wonderful week.



    Kind regards



    Tammy

    Bowel Cancer Australia Nurse Advisor



    Please Note: Bowel Cancer Australia's Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory services are subject to the following disclaimer.

  • Janice Bartley

    Massage Therapist, Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    Janice Bartley is a university qualified Medical Herbalist who fosters an evidence-based integrative approach to healthcare. Integrative healthcare focuses on the complexities of each individual’s … View Profile

    Oh wow Tammy, that was a fast response! I just want to add a little information about lifestyle factors.

    Even if someone has an inherited gene for bowel cancer it does not necessarily mean that they will develop the disease. We can think of a faulty gene as a light switch and cancer as the light – emerging evidence in epigenetics is telling us that simple lifestyle changes can help to prevent this light switch from being turned on:

    • maintaining a healthy weight
    • enjoying an active lifestyle
    • not smoking
    • eating a high-fibre diet full of fruit, vegetables and whole grains
    • eating moderate amounts of lean red meat and limit or avoid processed meat
    • consuming a diet low in fat and salt
    • avoiding or limiting our alcohol intake
    • protecting skin from sun damage

    In addition to these simple lifestyle adjustments, people with one or more first degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) with diagnosed bowel cancer should talk to their doctor about other specific lifestyle changes they can take to reduce their risk. If necessary their doctor may refer them to a family cancer clinic or genetic counseling service.

    Regular screening is vitally important, whether a person has a family history of bowel cancer or not! For more information on bowel cancer prevention please, as Tammy offered, visit the Bowel Cancer Australia website at www.bowelcanceraustralia.org

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