Bowel cancer may have a high genetic influence, study points out

According to US research, bowel cancer — also known as colorectal or colorectal cancer — may have a strong genetic and cases in up to third degree relatives may require extra preventive care, such as exams. This type of cancer encompasses tumors that start in the part of the large intestine called the colon and rectum.


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In the study at the University of Buffalo and the University of Utah, researchers observed that if an individual has a second- or third-degree relative who develops this type of bowel cancer at an early age (before 63 years ), the chances of that person developing it also increase substantially.

Risk of colorectal cancer is higher for people who have had relatives with this type of tumor before 50 years (Image: Reproduction/Colin Behrens/Pixabay)

It is worth remembering that first degree relatives include parents, children and siblings. Second-degree relatives include aunts, uncles, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Finally, third-degree relatives include first-degree cousins, great-grandparents, and great-grandchildren.

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  • The study

    “Our study provides a new insight into the magnitude of risk for more distant relatives of colorectal cancer cases and, in particular, for relatives of cases that were diagnosed before 50 years”, commented the researcher and one of the authors of the study, Heather Ochs Balcom. “This work is important due to the increasing rates of early-onset colorectal cancer,” he added about the study published in the scientific journal Cancer Epidemiology.

    For the research, the team of scientists reviewed more than 1,500 cases of early-onset colorectal cancer included in Utah’s health records. After analysis, they found: first-degree relatives of someone diagnosed with early-onset cancer are six times more likely to develop cancer before their children 35 years old; second-degree relatives are three times more likely; and third-degree relatives are about 1.5 times more likely.

    In addition, researchers have found that people have a 2.6 times greater risk of bowel cancer, at any age, if they have a first-degree relative with this type of early-onset cancer.

    Importance of colonoscopy

    For the study authors, these findings suggest that a prior colonoscopy exam

    years may be beneficial for cases where there is a family history of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (Inca), early diagnosis is very important to control the disease.

    “It is treatable and, in most cases, , curable, when detected early, when it has not yet spread to other organs. Most of these tumors start from polyps, benign lesions that can grow on the inner wall of the large intestine”, comments Inca, on its official website.

    To access the study complete, click here.

    Source: WB Med and Inca

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