Familial Gastrointestinal Cancer
Gastrointestinal cancer can develop anywhere in the digestive tract, from the oesophagus and stomach all the way down to the large colon and rectum. The main gastrointestinal cancer diagnosed in the UK is colon cancer (also called bowel or colorectal cancer).
Most gastrointestinal cancers diagnosed are sporadic, meaning they occur due to a combination of chance and external factors such as diet, lifestyle and the ageing process. These sporadic cancers mainly develop in people at an older age and family members are not at increased risk.
However, around 5 – 10% of bowel cancers develop because of a genetic or inherited condition. The two main indications for a genetic condition in a family are multiple relatives diagnosed with bowel cancer and relatives diagnosed with cancer at young ages.
Depending on an individual’s personal and/or family history, they (or their family members) may be eligible for genetic testing. If genetic testing is not indicated, the family will be recommended surveillance advice based on national guidelines (link to BSG guidelines and low/med/high risk page).