The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced a new on-line resource to enhance awareness of colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer risk and genetic testing for hereditary colorectal cancer. The department’s online resource provides basic cancer facts, risk factors, symptoms of colorectal cancer, where to go for free colorectal cancer screening in Connecticut, links to other helpful web sites, and other useful information.

The department’s online resource titled: “Genetic Evaluation and Testing for Hereditary Colorectal Cancer: What You Should Know.”

The resource provides answers to many questions such as:

How often is colorectal cancer inherited?

How can I find out if there is a chance that the colorectal cancer in my family is hereditary?

What specific types of colorectal cancer are inherited?

All cancers involve changes in genes called mutations. Most cases of colorectal cancer are due to mutations that happen randomly. However, in some families, the genetic changes may be inherited and passed on from one generation to the next, which are referred to as hereditary cancers.

Two relatively rare hereditary conditions that involve a very high lifetime risk for colorectal cancer are Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). There are other colorectal cancer syndromes that are known to be hereditary, in addition to these two. Some are related to the occurrence of multiple polyps, whereas others are associated with conditions such as brain cancer and certain types of skin cancer.