I belong to a family with an extensive history of colon cancer, but nobody ever talked about it. My father underwent major surgery for three bouts of colon cancer before anyone even mentioned genetic testing.
Although hesitant, you could say I jumped into genetic counseling with both feet. Mapping out my family health history was glaring. With my father, aunt, grandfather, great uncle and great grandfather all having colon cancer (on my fathers side of the family), the counselor said we displayed all the signs of Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.
Lynch syndrome is a hereditary condition that places people at an extremely high risk for developing many types of cancer. With Lynch syndrome, there is an 80 percent lifetime risk of developing colon cancer, and females have up to a 60 percent chance of developing endometrial cancers. The only way to know if you have Lynch syndrome is to undergo genetic testing.
My father, my aunt and I have all tested positive for Lynch syndrome. Every, year I have a colonoscopy, an upper endoscopy, a transvaginal ultrasound, an ultrasound of my kidneys and renal system, a CA-125 test for ovarian cancer and a urine cytology test. Testing is the key early diagnosis.
Information is powerful. When it comes to your health, you need to be your own advocate and know your risk. Be informed, ask questions and follow up.