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Does uterine cancer increase colon cancer risk?

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Updated: March 2, 2008

Question: Does uterine cancer increase colon cancer risk?

Women with a personal (or family) history of uterine cancer may have a greater risk of developing colon cancer. If the uterine cancer was caused by a particular genetic mutation, women are considered at high risk for colon cancer.

Answer:

There's a genetic mutation that causes a condition called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). People with HNPCC have about an 80% chance of developing colorectal cancer at some point in their lives. They also have about a 50% chance of developing uterine cancer.

It's possible to get uterine cancer first and have no idea that you even have the HNPCC mutation. A study published in the journal Cancer Research found that one out of 50 women newly-diagnosed with uterine cancer had the HNPCC mutation and didn't know it.

Unless you've had genetic testing, you need to look at the big picture to get a better idea of what's going on. If your family history includes colon cancer, you're already at greater risk for colon cancer so that's a no-brainer.

But if it includes uterine cancer, even if that's the only cancer it includes, you may want to write down who had it and at what age. Then, have a long conversation with your doctor about what that history may mean for you.

For more information about uterine cancer, please watch About's video: Types of Uterine Cancer.

Source:

American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. American Cancer Society. 28 Feb. 2006. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_2_3X_ACS_Cancer_Detection_Guidelines_36.asp?sitearea=PED].

Hampel, Heather and Frankel, Wendy. "Screening for Lynch Syndrome (Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer) among Endometrial Cancer Patients." Cancer Research 66 (Aug. 2006): 7810-7817. 9 Aug. 2006 [http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/66/15/7810].

The Genetics of Colorectal Cancer. People Living with Cancer. 27 Aug. 2006 [http://www.plwc.org/portal/site/plwc/menuitem.034b98abc65a8f566343cc10ee37a01d/?vgnextoid=c9b1ea97a56d9010VgnVCM100000f2730ad1RCRD&vgnextfmt=default].

Uterine Cancer May be Clue to Inherited Syndrome. Ohio State University. 9 Aug. 2006 [http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/lynchsyn.htm].

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